Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/307

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

defend England from the charge of brutality which such an execution illustrates.

Allow me to give your readers some facts bearing on the matter. Many Boston readers were shocked by the meaning of the sentence as stated by me in a speech at Edward Kelly's grave—a man who, in 1867, with other Irishmen, was convicted of "high treason," and sentenced to be "hanged, drawn, and quartered," according to English law.

I did not state the sentence fully, I admit: I shrank from speaking the words to American ears, or writing them for American eyes. The whole horrible truth is dragged out now by the challenge of a zealous champion.

The person adjudged guilty, by English law, of high treason forfeited his property to the crown, was drawn on a hurdle to the gallows, there hanged, then cut down, disemboweled, and his entrails burned before life was extinct; and the body was then beheaded and quartered. This sentence has never been changed since it was passed and perpetrated on Robert Emmet, in 1803.

In the thirtieth year of George III., when the American "rebels" were guilty of high treason by wholesale, it was enacted that the execution for this offense might be carried out without the full perpetration of these enormities. But the horrors were by no means abrogated or forbidden, nor were they always discontinued in practice, as we shall see.

The procedure at a rebel's execution under this sentence is briefly but clearly recorded in an English official paper, the Dublin Courant, published at Dublin, in 1745. Three Scottish rebels of that time were executed in London. This official organ says:

"Yesterday, between eleven and twelve o'clock, the three rebels, Donald McDonald, James Nicholson, and Walter Ogilvie, were drawn in one sledge from the new jail in Southwark to Kennington Common. Alexander McGromber, who was to have suffered with them, received, the night before, a reprieve for twenty-one days. When they came to the gallows they behaved with decency and composure of mind. Before they were tied up, they prayed nearly an hour without any clergymen attending them; and when the halters, which were red and white, were put on them and fixed to the gallows, they prayed a few minutes before they were turned off. Walter Ogilvie delivered a paper to the officers of the guard, though none of them spoke to the populace, but referred to the accounts by them delivered. After hanging fourteen minutes, Donald McDonald was cut down, and, being disemboweled, his entrails were flung into the fire, and the others were served in a like manner; after which their heads and bodies were put into shells, and carried back to the new jail."

Twenty years later than the execution of these three Scottish patri-