The murderer's name is Charles Christopher Robinson, now aged eighteen. He was left without father or mother at the age of seven. His father had been a blacksmith and coal dealer, occupying premises on the spot which forms the site of the present Market Hall of Wolverhampton.
Dying first, Mr. Robinson left his wife with two sons, and also a daughter of his by a former wife. Upon her decease, Mrs. Robinson left her son Charles a farm and some cottage property, all at Trysull, worth together £4,000. The joint executors were Mr. Josiah Fisher, a gentleman of independent property, but acting occasionally as a house agent, and living in his own residence in Sidney Street, Wolverhampton; and Mr. Reuben Robinson, coal merchant, of Cleveland Street, in the same town, brother to the boy's father, and who succeeded the father in the business of coal merchant. Charles has, ever since the death of his mother, lived in the family of Mr. Josiah Fisher.
Charles Christopher Robinson, so soon as he left school, desired to become a cabinet maker, and was for three months with Messrs. Wilkinson and Higgitt, cabinet maker in that town a few years ago. The apprentice did not, however, display much fondness for close application to work, and he finally left his master before he had been with him two years. From that time, his chief executor remarks, he has been disinclined to pursue any particular calling, justifying himself by saying that "enough money had been got up to keep him.
At the rear of Mr. Josiah Fisher's residence, and having a frontage in Ablow Street, is a public house with the sign of the Queen's Arms. This house is kept by Mr. Isaiah Fisher, son of Mr. Josiah Fisher, to whom it belongs. There was a ready communication between both houses, and each family was in almost constant intercourse with the other.
Up to some few months ago, a girl, named Rosetta Flower, lived as servant to Mr. Josiah Fisher for three years. She died there, and during a portion of her illness an interesting young woman, named Harriett Segar, who was the sister of Mrs. Isaiah Fisher, assisted to nurse her. Miss Segar had been living with her sister at the Queen's Arms, and during that time an intimacy had sprung up between her and Charles Christopher Robinson which ripened into affection. At about the time of the death of Rosetta Flower he was acknowledged by the friends on both sides of her suitor, and the ultimate marriage of the young people was confidently anticipated.
After Rosetta Flower's death Miss Segar consented to enter the family of Josiah Fisher and act as their servant, but on tolerably equal terms. She was slightly, but not a twelvemonth, older than her suitor, and was, therefore, scarcely nineteen years of age on Saturday last. On that day Mr. and Mrs. Josiah Fisher, with Mrs. Isaiah Fisher, left home at about three o'clock in the afternoon to go to Codsall. At that time Charles Robinson was in the garden behind the house smoking, and Miss Segar was engaged about her domestic duties. Excepting these two, no one was left at the house in Sidney Street. At about four o'clock, Emma Silleto, aged fifteen, servant at the Queen's Arms, was near to the back door of the residence of Mr. Josiah Fisher, when she saw Miss Segar at work, but crying, and Robinson was near her. The impression left on Silleto's mind was that they had been quarrelling. In about half an hour afterwards Robinson went to the Queen's Arms, and borrowed a knife-board for Miss Segar's use, and with it took away half a pint of ale. Half an house afterwards Silleto sent one of her master's children for the board, and the messenger, a boy, was told by Robinson that it was not done with, and he must come again.
Some time after five o'clock Silleto herself went for the board. Miss Segar stood using it in the back kitchen; she was still crying, and Robinson was standing at the entrance to the kitchen. Miss Segar threw out the board, and Robinson either kicked or threw it to Silleto, who went away with it. At a little before six Silleto heard a gun fired in Mr. Josiah Fisher's house, and in a few minutes one of Mr. Isaiah Fisher's children ran in from the garden, which separates the two houses, and cried out that "Charles had shot Harriet!" Silleto ran across the garden, and saw Robinson come down stairs and enter the back kitchen. The foot of the stairs can be seen from the garden. As soon as she caught sight of him she called out, "What have you done to Harriet?" He replied, "I have shot her!" and proceeded into the back kitchen. On looking through the window of the back kitchen she saw him standing without his coat, in front of a small mirror which was hanging against the wall. Whilst looking into the mirror he held a razor in his right hand and cut, Siletto says, three gashes in his throat. She raised an alarm; and when neighbours came in they found him standing in a leaning posture outside the back kitchen, his eyes glaring and his clothes stained with blood that had been and was still flowing from wounds in his throat. An attempt was made to secure him, when he became very violent, and tried hard to tear open the wounds described. With some difficulty he was overpowered, and his hands fastened behind him.
Whilst this was going on, neighbours had entered the back kitchen, and had found Miss Segar lying lifeless on the floor. Death had been occasioned by a hideous cut in the throat, which, passing through the windpipe and all the arteries, extended right to the spine. She was surrounded with blood, and, upon her head being raised, the last breath of life seemed to depart.
The murderer's wounds having been temporarily bandaged, he was led into an inner room, where his injuries were dressed by Mr. Summers and Mr. Vincent Jackson, surgeons.
Preparatory to the removal of Robinson upstairs, Mr. Summers went forward, and in the young man's bedroom saw a small pigeon-gun reared up at full cock against a table, upon which there were powder, shot and caps; and upon the bed there was a blood-stain having the impression of a man's hand.
Inspector Thomas had now arrived, and taking charge of the premises, he placed two policemen to guard the murderer. The gun he found loaded with a heavy charge of some kind. In the back kitchen he found a white-handled razor, with the blade and haft clotted with blood, lying on the edge of the sinkstone upon which the knife board had been placed, and in front of which, upon the floor, the murdered woman was lying. The razor was shut, and near to it lay a fork and a piece of leather, just as these might be expected to be found if, whilst Miss Segar was cleaning the fork, she was pulled backward by the hair and her throat cut. The extent of the wound leads the surgeons to the conclusion that this is the way in which she was murdered; and the fact that when our reporter saw the body lying as it was found, the hair was dishevelled, would point to the same conclusion.
After having taken Miss Segar's life, Robinson would seem to have gone upstairs into his bedroom; his hands wet with the young woman's blood, and then to have attempted to shoot himself; for not only was blood found upon the bed in the impression described, but the barrel and butt end of the gun likewise had blood upon them, and a charge of shot had passed into the ceiling and brought down some of the plaster. The gun, which bore marks of having been recently discharged, he would then seem to have reloaded. The child of Mr. Isaiah Fisher, who first gave the alarm, appears to have been attracted into the house by the report of the gun, and seeing Miss Segar lying surrounded with blood, conceived the notion that she had been shot. The alarm is thought to have brought the murderer downstairs before he had, by the second discharge of the gun, completed the purpose with which he is supposed to have at first exploded it; but, an equally ready means being at hand when he got downstairs, he seems to have adopted it, and so gashed his throat with the razor that was already dripping with the blood of his dying victim.
When Silleto saw him at the bottom of the stairs, before he went into the kitchen with the razor to the glass, she called out, "What have you done with Harriet?" and Robinson replied, "I have shot her." This, however, does not appear to be correct, for Segar's corpse does not, so far as it has been examined, bear marks of other injuries than those committed with the razor.
The gun belonged to a son of Mr. Josiah Fisher, and Robinson had been using it during the day in shooting at small birds. With this son he was at one time accustomed to sleep, but owing to the circumstance that sometimes during the night Robinson would threaten to destroy himself and everyone in the house, young Fisher refused to continue as his bedfellow. These threats, there is reason to fear, were vented when Robinson was suffering from a description of delirium tremens. Sometimes he drank heavily, and occasioned disorder in the family of his executor. As recently as Wednesday last he came home at midnight, drunk. Mrs. Fisher let him in, and alike to her and to Mr. Fisher told him that he must leave, and go into lodgings, and that as he had lately become accustomed to use harsh language towards Miss Segar, she also had better leave, lest after he had left the peace of the family might still be subject to disturbance on the occasion of his visits.
When evening came Robinson craved the pardon of his executor, and, making promises of amendment, was allowed to remain. Miss Segar used to chide him gently for his excesses, and fits of moroseness followed upon most of his drinking bouts; indeed, Mr. Fisher states that his temper was of so sullen a cast, that the girl, Rosetta Flower, having once offended him, he did not speak a work to her for nearly three years, though during all that time both were living in the same family.
Excepting to remark to Silleto that he had shot Harriet, Robinson is not understood to have said anything about the shocking crime which he has committed.
There are two wounds upon his throat, one of them so superficial as to scarcely more than cut through the skin. The other does not include any of the principal arteries, and, whilst it extends to each side of the cartilage of the windpipe, it has not injured it. In a few days, therefore, it is expected that he will be sufficiently recovered to appear in the dock charged with the wilful murder of Harriett Segar.
The father of the deceased lives at Compton, and is a blacksmith. The Coroner's inquest will be opened today [Monday]. Awaiting this enquiry, the body of the murdered woman remains in the position in which it was first seen.
The Mayor and the other Magistrates, with Captain Segrave [the Chief Constable of the Borough], were at Mr. Fisher's residence shortly after the murder was committed; and Mr. Fisher returned home, with his wife and daughter, soon afterwards.
Up to a late hour on Saturday night, and during yesterday, the house was an
object of all-engrossing interest to crowds of persons, who flocked to it from
all parts of the town."
The Murder of Harriet Seagar at Wolverhampton
The story is a fearful one - fearful not so much from any features of peculiar atrocity connected with it, as from its consequences as they must strike a thoughtful mind. It is the story of two lives, which might have been useful and happy, sacrificed - the one to blind, unreasoning rage, the other to inexorable justice.
No great stretch of the imagination was required to picture these two young people living long and honourable lives and dying happy, but where are they now? The one, cut off in her youth, sleeps her last sleep all too soon; and the other is buried with murderers, in ground hallowed by no sacred rites.
Harriet Seagar was an interesting girl who, after tending a young female friend, who died in the house of Mr. Isaiah Fisher, of the Queen's Arms Inn, in Ablow Street, Wolverhampton, went to live in the capacity of domestic with Mr. Josiah Fisher [father of Isaiah] who carries on the business of a house agent, and lives in Sidney Street, in the same town. Here she met Charles Christopher Robinson, who afterwards murdered her, and here commences the brief story which ended so sadly yesterday.
This Robinson was the son of one who formerly carried on business as a blacksmith and coal dealer, in premises standing on the same site which is now occupied by Wolverhampton Market Hall, and that he was tolerably successful in business may be inferred from the fact that, dying first, he left his widow in such a position that at her death [for fortunately neither parent has survived to know that their son died a shameful death] she was enabled to leave her son real property, at Trysull, worth some £4,000. This piece of fortune, which might have brought him happiness, turned out to be a bitter legacy of sorrow for the poor lad, for, from being a good boy at school, he grew up and idle, vicious youth, with no inclination for honest labour, but a strong liking for low and brutal pleasures.
This was the position when he first made the acquaintance of Harriet Seagar. Her good looks and winning manner at once took his fancy, and in time the friends of both came to look upon them as affianced. Though the gentle, refining influence of woman would seem to have had some influence for good over the youth's mind, there were times when he gave way to fits of moody jealousy [for which no reason has been shown], and then quarrels were the result; but, like all quarrels of the kind, they passed away, and left each as fond as ever of the other. So matters went on until the 26th August last, on the afternoon of which day Mr. and Mrs. Fisher went out, leaving the Seagar girl engaged in some light domestic duties, and Robinson amused himself by smoking and shooting small birds in the garden. Having pursued this occupation for some time, he was seen to go to the house and enter into conversation with the girl Seagar. No one heard the conversation, but from the fact that the girl was observed to be crying, it may be assumed that it was but a renewal of one of their ancient quarrels. If so, it was their last.
What actually preceded the commission of the crime can never be known, for both actors in it are now dead, and no record is left. The result we know too well. Assuming that Robinson attempted to take some liberty with the girl, and that it was resented, he appears to have given the rein to all the wild headstrong wicked passions latent within him, to have armed himself with a razor, and then to have stolen behind the unsuspecting girl, seized her by her hair, forced back her head, and inflicted a frightful gash upon her throat, causing instantaneous death.
Seeing the frightful results of his handiwork, and seized with terror or remorse, or both, he then made two attempt upon his own life. These attempts were unsuccessful. The nerve that a few moments before was sufficiently steady to sever the poor girl's head from her body, but for the resistance offered to the instrument by her spine, was now sufficient only to inflict a few skin wounds upon his own throat, and a charge of shot, aimed at his head, found a harmless lodgment in the ceiling of his bedroom.
The neighbourhood was now alarmed by the report of firearms, and on some persons rushing into the house they found poor Harriet Seagar weltering in her blood upon the floor, and quite dead, and her murderer standing by, bleeding from the wounds in his throat, but not apparently at all concerned about what he had done.
He was removed to the South Staffordshire Hospital, where his wounds were dressed. He made one or two attempts to tear them open, but was prevented, and they speedily healed. He relapsed into a settled sullenness, and made little or no allusion to the fearful crime which he had committed. When sufficiently recovered, he was brought before the Coroner's Jury and the Magistrates, by both of which Courts he was committed to take his trial for wilful murder.
The trial took place on the 21st and 22nd of December, at Stafford, before Mr. Justice Keating, and a very respectable Jury. The prosecution was conducted by Mr. Hill, and the defence by Mr. Motteram. The prisoner had a full and fair trial, which is the crowning glory of the administration of the criminal law in England; but, in the end, the Jury being convinced, as upon the evidence they could not fail being, that the hand of Robinson committed the murder, and refusing to be convinced that he was insane when his hand deprived that young woman of life, found him guilty, and he was sentenced to death, the learned Judge who presided telling him not to hope for mercy, except in another world. Having listened to the evidence with the same stolid indifference which had characterised his conduct throughout, he hear the last dread sentence of the law with like unconcern, and went back to the gaol, there to await his doom.
Undaunted by the serious aspect which affairs had assumed, a number of friends of the convict, desiring that blood should not be shed, used strenuous efforts to induce Sir George Grey to recommend the exercise of the Royal prerogative of mercy that the capital sentence might be commuted, but, after consulting the learned Judge who presided, the Home Secretary announced that the case was not one in which he could recommend the exercise of the prerogative, and the law must take its course.
Since his condemnation the culprit has not appeared to wish for life, and after a time, throwing off the cloak of indifference which he had assumed, he paid earnest attention to the exhortations of the Rev. W. P. Vincent, the chaplain of the gaol, who was unremitting in his attentions to the spiritual welfare of the unhappy young man. He spent a considerable part of his time in writing, and amongst others, he wrote to his uncle and guardian, Mr. Josiah Fisher, as follows:-
"My dear Uncle, You will think I have forgotten you by not writing to you, but it is hard to write - to think of home; but I cannot forget you, nor Mrs. Fisher. Dear Uncle, you both talked to me, and wished me to lead a better life, and leave off my habits and company; and you was always giving me good advice, time after time, but I would not listen - most the pity; but now I see my own folly. Dear uncle, you both behaved to me as you did to your own children; you thought as much of me as you did of them, and behave to me the same. I know you feel it is hard for me to leave you both, it seems to you as if you have lost one of your own; but if I had only have taken the good advice as you both wished me. I never knew what it was to leave a good home and good, kind parents. I can see your kindness now I am away from you both. I never knew what it was to have a sorrowful and broken heart, but now I know. You must excuse me not writing to you so often - it is not because I have forgotten you all. You must think how I feel the loss of my good home and parents: it is almost too much for me. It takes me a long time to write to you. I have to stop many times to wipe away my sorrowful tears from my poor broken heart. O how kind you both behaved to me. I know this has shaken you both, and broken other hearts, but, dear Uncle, I hope you will forgive me if I said it was your fault, for I am sure I cannot tell myself it is, Charley. O dear, is seems a mystery to me. I can assure you. Was it jealousness? Was it passion? Was it the neglect of God? O, if I could only tell, it would ease my poor troubled mind. My eyes are always full of tears. Is it not enough to make them? Though many things break my heart - leaving you all, leaving home, me being in this place of terror and anguish, feeling for more than myself. O, how I feel for that kind, dear, loving Harriet! O, my broken heart, my sorrowful tears! O, how I long to be with the one I loved, the only one I longed for! I see you all in my dreams, though I am away from you, dear Mr. Fisher and Mrs. Fisher, I love you both. I caused you more trouble than you ever had. O, it was in an unguarded moment that I yielded to the device of Satan. I hope and trust the Lord Jesus will have mercy on her poor soul, which had not one moment to prepare. O, how my broken heart does not pant. I can hear it. I think of my dear Harriet day and night. I am always talking to her in my dreams. I very often see her. Nobody knows the tears that I shed. I feel and see more every day; but, dear Uncle, it is too late to undo that which is done, but not too late to be pardoned by the God of Mercy, who is ready and even waiting to forgive me all my sins. It does not matter how great my sins are, for the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse me from all sin. The Lord has broken my heart, and made me to know the great need as I have of his dear only Son; and he has pierced me through with many sorrows, but I have deserved all. Dear Uncle, a little time and all this trouble and sorrow will be o'er, and then I hope to meet those that I have loved before, were the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary heavy laden sinners are at rest. Dear Uncle, my time is all occupied with the Lord Jesus; my prayers are continually going up to Christ to forgive me all my past sins. The Lord turns no one away; he is full of mercy to me: the chief of sinners are welcome. I have almost always got a pain in my head; it is through being confined much, not being used to it. I hope you are all well."
This letter was written before his trial. As soon as the trial was over, and Mr. Fisher visited the culprit, the latter in the presence of his brother repeated the remark he made to Mr. Fisher when he returned home after the murder was committed, and which in this letter he asks forgiveness for having made.
Aiding in the efforts which were made to procure a reprieve of the culprit on the ground of insanity, Drs. Hewson and Bower, of the two lunatic asylums of Stafford, in support of their own memorial, went voluntarily to London to lay their views before Sir George Grey and Mr. Justice Keating. The Home Secretary said that since the new Act came into operation after the reprieve of Townley his hands were tied, and he could not act unless at the instance of the Judge who tried the prisoner.
Mr. Justice Keating expressed every desire to help them and the defence [who were represented at the same time by Mr. Thomas Walker of Wolverhampton], if he could see how; and his Lordship went carefully through the notes of the evidence, allowing the interview to be prolonged a considerable time. Ultimately his Lordship allowed the deputation to leave with little or no expectation that such a report would be made to the Home Secretary as would justify them in expecting their mission would be successful. His Lordship kindly expressed himself fully to the deputation. He said that inasmuch as neither Dr. Hewson nor Dr. Bowers were present immediately after the murder, they could not speak upon Robinson's state of mind with that authority which would have made their testimony evidence. Mr. Motteramm, his Lordship said, therefore did right in not putting such a question to Dr. Hewson. If Dr. Hewson expressed his belief that he was insane, his Lordship would not have allowed their testimony to go to the Jury; he should have expressly guarded the Jury that they must not receive it as evidence. Mr. Justice Keating did not believe in Robinson's insanity, or his intention to commit suicide. He believed that Robinson had allowed his temper to get the mastery of him, and that in that mood he murdered Seagar. After that, if he had been labouring under insanity, he would have gashed his own throat like he gashed that of his victim, and not have carefully scarred it before the glass. His Lordship, however, promised that he would report as favourably to Sir George Grey as he was able. His Lordship would have been satisfied if Drs. Hewson and Bowers could have stated that Robinson was insane at any time that they visited him in prison, or if it could be shown that he was then [at the time of the interview] insane. But this could not be done. Mr. Hughes, the surgeon of the gaol, subsequently wrote to Sir George Grey expressing his belief that at the execution the wounds in the culprit's throat would burst. Such, however, were the views expressed by Mr. Justice Keating that all expectation of a reprieve was given up, and Robinson did not seem greatly disappointed when these views were expressed to him. He was always accustomed to call Mr. Fisher "uncle," although he is only his second cousin, and on Thursday last Mr. Fisher received the following letter from the culprit:-
"My dear uncle, I am permitted by the Governor to see you, Mrs. Fisher,
Isaiah, Emma, and little Isaiah, Josiah, Mr. Seagar, Sarah, and Christopher and
Tom. You must all come on the same day, but I could see you alone for a few
minutes, and the others can come in afterwards. My friends can now see me in my
cell; Let me know which day you will all come, it must be either Friday or
Saturday, it will be the last time that I shall have the opportunity of
seeing you all in this world, and I hope none of you will refuse my last dying
request, with my kind love to all, I am your unhappy nephew, Christopher
All the persons named, excepting Mr. Seagar, Harriett's father, who refused to go to Stafford, went to the gaol on Saturday. Mr. Fisher first saw Robinson in the presence of the Rev. W. P. Vincent only. Robinson again repeated the statement he made to Mr. Fisher after the murder and also after the trial. Mr. Fisher replied, "Charles, you know it is an untruth; you ought not, nearly at the last hour of your time, to state such untruths." The Chaplain did not for some time speak, but presently said, "Charles says so, and you contradict him." Robinson said, "I've said it, and I'll say it again." Fisher afterwards remarked, "It was unfortunate we were all out." Robinson responded, "Yes; I intended to do a great deal more than that, but was prevented." When about to part, Mr. Fisher shook hands with Robinson, who hung about him, and they kissed one another. Robinson said to his guardian: "I'll forgive you." Mr. Fisher responded: "Yes, Charles, you have got nothing to forgive me about. I'll forgive you for what you have said, and I hope you will be happy." Mr. Fisher then left. Mrs. Isaiah Fisher, and Mr. Josiah Fisher's two sons were then admitted. Mrs. Fisher asked if he had explained himself why he had done such a thing. Robinson siad that he had told Mr. Fisher. The Chaplain, at Mrs. Fisher's request, told her what was the substance of Robinson's statement. Mrs. Fisher said her opinion was that her sister had refused to keep Robinson's company; and that he being very violent when in a passion, committed the act in his rage. In reply to Mrs. Fisher, Robinson said that Seagar made a statement to him on the afternoon of the murder. When she did so, she asked him not to hurt her if she told him. Mrs. Fisher said she did not believe it. Robinson referring to Mr. Fisher having threatened that he should find lodgings elsewhere on Wednesday night said: "Mr. Fisher must be thankful, for if he [Mr. Fisher] had not forgiven him on the following [Thursday] night, the powder and shot that were in the gun were intended for him." Mrs. Fisher, in further conversation, wished to know if her sister, before she was murdered, said anything about her friends? Robinson remarked that she said she should go and live with her sister in Birmingham, and leave Wolverhampton. Mrs. Fisher: "Did you see her after you had done it?" Robinson: "I stooped and kissed her several times." Mrs. Fisher asked him if there was any quarrel between them when they were together at the theatre on the previous evening? Robinson: "No, poor girl; I was too fond of her. Mrs. Fisher, referring to the statement he had made to the chaplain and Mr. Fisher [her brother-in-law], said she was sorry he had made such a statement. She believed it was quite wrong. She did not think she was coming to Stafford to hear that. Robinson responded: "I have said it, and I'll stick to it. It would do me no good to die with a lie on my lips; for my time here is very short."
George Christopher Robinson, the murderer's brother, saw him on Monday afternoon, and was with him about three-quarters of an hour. Afterwards, Mr. Reuben Robinson, in whose care George Christopher has been ever since the death of his maternal grandfather, which took place when George was 15 years of age, saw the murderer. Both the relatives were impressed with the marked calm which they perceived had come over the culprit. Robinson referred to no circumstance connected with the murder; and seemed [they say] fully absorbed upon the change which was awaiting him. He talked about "going to his dear Lord, in Heaven;" said that "whilst it would be pleasant to go back to Wolverhampton with them, yet he did not fear dying; he should not hesitate to ascend the scaffold." Whilst he was crying he said: "he did not weep in fear of death, but on account of his brother, upon whom he had brought so much grief - grief which would never have happened if he had kept his company, and had continued to attend certain cottage religious service to which his father had introduced him." He spoke of the impressions which those services made upon his mind at the time, but how he had permitted them to be effaced.
Both his brother and also his uncle were in the highest degree consoled by their relative's demeanour on Monday afternoon.
On the day before his execution, the culprit addressed a letter to the Chaplain of the Gaol, in which he thanked that gentleman for his attention, and expressed himself generally with an amount of feeling, and in language which for one of his previous character and habits was certainly extraordinary. He made a statement to the chaplain, in which he fully acknowledge the justice of his sentence, and narrated the circumstances connected with his crime; but as the narration would cause pain to his surviving relatives, he expressed an earnest desire that it should not be made public, a desire with which the chaplain has complied. His behaviour towards the last was "extraordinarily contrite," to use the chaplain's own phrase and gave great cause for satisfaction and hope.
This then, brings us to the "last scene of all that ends this strange, eventful history." The usual barriers were erected in front of the prison on Monday evening, and although for some time the snow fell heavily, and the wind blew bitterly and cold, some few people who had come from a distance in order to see a fellow creature die a violent death straggled up as early as ten o'clock in order to see the gallows drawn out and placed in position in front of the main entrance to the gaol. A huge fire of logs burnt brilliantly near, casting a glare upon the sombre walls of the prison, and the scaffold, in which the figures of great-coated policemen flitted incessantly to and fro.
Satisfied from the appearance of the preparations that they would not be disappointed on the morrow, the early arrivals dropped off in lively chattering groups to the public houses near, there to refresh themselves and await the light. By six o'clock in the morning, the snowstorm having passed, and given way to a keen frost, the spectators began to return and take up the best positions for seeing the sight.
To return to the young man inside the Gaol, for whose death all these preparations were being made. It is not at all to be wondered that his last night on earth was restless, for he knew that long before the morrow''s sun had attained its meridian, he would have solved "the great perhaps." and travelled into the land "from whose bourne no traveller returns;" that he would be wiser than all living, and that he would have passed into the presence of that Judge whose decision is final for eternity, but who tempers justice with mercy in a manner known only to himself, and not dreamed of by mortals. About three o'clock in the morning he fell asleep, and slept till half-past four, when he awoke, and took the Holy Communion. From this time he remained awake engaged in devotions with the chaplain and his assistant, the Rev. W. S. Eastman. As time wore on, and the span of his life narrowed minute by minute, his composure returned, and when Smith, of Dudley, the hangman, arrived and pinioned him, he was quite ready.
A few minutes before eight, Mr. Hand, the Under Sheriff, arrived, and at once proceeded to the condemned cell to demand the culprit for execution. A procession was then formed, consisting of Robinson, in the clothes he wore at the trial, and with his head uncovered, Mr. Hand, Major Fulford [Governor of the Gaol], Mr. Mountford [Assistant Governor], prison warders bearing black wands, the executioner, and several representatives of the press; and in this order, headed by the chaplain reading the solemn litany customary on such occasions, the responses to which were audibly pronounced by the culprit, the procession slowly wound its way to the place of execution.
Passing through a long stone corridor the open air was reached, and by winding walks, the prison bell tolling sadly, birds chirping innocent and cheerfully, and the sky slowly brightening into full day, the foot of the scaffold was reached. There the unhappy young man stopped, and, turning round to the chaplain, again acknowledged the justice of his sentence, and was about to add more, but his emotions were too strong for utterance. He turned away, and slowly mounting the short ladder, placed himself under the beam, attended by four warders. Here Smith speedily arranged the preliminaries, and drawing a long white cap over a face upon dwelt a look of most awful abstraction, shook hands with the convict, and retired. A moment's dreadful suspense, then a harsh grating of bolts, then a heavy fall, followed by that hoarse murmur of an execution mob which no words can adequately describe, a lifeless corpse swung quivering in the air, and the end was come.
The greater part of the crowd, which had been very orderly in its behaviour,
then retired; but a few remained during the prescribed hour, and saw the body
cut down. The body was buried, as usual, within the precincts of the gaol.