CHAPTER II.

The first of the events which I must now relate was the conviction of the Prisoner for the murder of her husband.

They had lived together in matrimony for a little more than a year. The husband, a gentleman by birth and education, had mortally offended his relations by marrying a woman in an inferior rank of life. He was fast declining into a state of poverty, through his own reckless extravagance, at the time when he met his death at his wife's hand.

Without attempting to excuse him, he deserved, to my mind, some tribute of regret. It is not to be denied that he was profligate in his habits and violent in his temper. But it is equally true that he was affectionate in the domestic circle, and, when moved by wisely applied remonstrance, sincerely penitent for sins committed under temptation that overpowered him. If his wife had killed him in a fit of jealous rage--under provocation, be it remembered, which the witnesses proved--she might have been convicted of manslaughter, and might have received a light sentence. But the evidence so undeniably revealed deliberate and merciless premeditation, that the only defence attempted by her counsel was madness, and the only alternative left to a righteous jury was a verdict which condenmed the woman to death. Those mischievous members of the community, whose topsy-turvy sympathies feel for the living criminal and forget the dead victim, attempted to save her life by means of high-flown petitions and contemptible correspondence in the newspapers. But the judge held firm; and the Home Secretary held firm. They were entirely right, and the public was scandalously wrong.

Our Chaplain endeavored to offer the consolations of religion to the condemned wretch. She refused to accept his ministrations in language which filled him with grief and horror.

On the evening before the execution, the reverend gentleman laid on my table his own written report of a conversation which had passed between the Prisoner and himself.

"I see some hope, sir," he said, "of inclining the heart of this woman to religious belief, before it is too late. Will you read my report, and say it you agree with me?'

-4-

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