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we could make no observation upon his deportment, till we all arrived at the place of execution. The crowd there was very great, but not the least appearance of a riot. The Rajah sat in his palanquin upon the bearer's shoulders, and looked around at first with some attention. I did not oliserve the smallest discomposure in his countenance or manner at the sight of the gallows, or any of the ceremonies passing about it. He asked for the Bramins, who were not come, and shewed some earnestness, as if he apprehended the execution might take place before their arrival. I took that opportunity of assur. ing him I would wait his own time; “it was early in the day, and there was no hurry.” The Bramins soon after appearing, I offered to remove the officers, thinking that he might have something to say in private ; but he made a motion not to do it, and said, he had only a few words to remind them of, what hehad said concerning Rajah Gourdass, and the case of his Zenana. IIe spoke to me, and desired that the men might be taken care of, as they were to take charge of his body, which he desired repeatedly might not be touched by any of the bystanders; but he seemed not in the least alarmed or discomposed at the crowd around him. There was some delay in the necessary preparations, and from the awkwardness of the people: he was no way desirous of protracting the business, but repeatedly told me he was ready. Upon my asking him if he had any more friends he wished to, sce, he answered, he had many, but this was neither a place, or an occasion to look for them. Did he apprehend there might be any present, who could not get up for the crowd: He mentioned one, whose name was called; but he immediately said “it was of no "s consequence, probably he had not come.” Ile then desired me to remember him to General Clavering, Colonel Monson, and Mr. Francis, and looked with the greatest composure. When he was not engaged in conversation, he lay back in the palanquin, moving his lips and tongue as before. I then caused him to be asked about the signal he was to make, which
could not be done by speaking on account of the noise of the crowd. He said he would make a motion with his hand; and when it was represented to him that it would be necessary for his hands to be tied, in order to prevent any involuntary motion, and I recommended his making a motion with his foot, lie said he would. Nothing now remained but the last painful ceremony. Í ordered his palanquin to be placed close under the gallows, but he chose to walk, which be did more erect than I have generally seen him. At the foot of the steps which led to the stage, he put his hands behind him to be tied with a handkerchief, looking around at the same time, with the utmost unconcern; some difficulties arising about the cloth which should be tied over his face, he told the people that it must not be done by one of us. I presented to him a subaltern sepoy officer, who is a Bramin, and he came forward with a handkerchief in his hand, but the Rajah pointed to a servant of his own, who was laying prostrate at his fect, and beckoned him to do it. He had some weakness in his feet, which added to the confinement of his hands, made him mount the steps with dif. ficulty.
But he shewed not the least reluctance, scrambling rather forward to get up. Ile then stood erect on the stage, while I examined his countenance as stedfastly as I could, till the cloth covered it, to see if I could observe the smallest symptom of fear, or alarm, but there was not a trace of it. My own spirits sunk, and I stept into my palanquin; but before I was well seated, he had given the signal, and the stage was removed. I could observe, when I was a little recovered, that his arms lay back in the same position, in which I saw them first tied, nor could I perceive any contortion of that side of his mouth and face which was visible. In a word, his steadi. ness, composure, and resolution throughout the whole of this melancholy transaction, were equal to any examples of fortitude I have ever read or heard of. The body was taken down after hanging the usual time, and delivered to the Bramins for burning.”
While this tragedy, said Sir Gilbert, was acting, the surroun'ling multitudes were agitated with grief, fear, and suspenre. With a kind of superstitious incredulity, they could not believe that it was really intended to put the Rajah to death; but when they saw him tied up, and the scafold drop from uuder him, they set up an universal yell, and with the most piercing cries of horror and dismay, betook themselves to fight, running, many of them as far as the Ganges, and plunging into the water, as if to hide themselves from such tyranny as they had witnessed, or to wash away the pollution contracted from viewing such a spectacle.
It may, perhaps, be proper to add, that Nundcomar was executed upon a charge of forgery; that he was 70 years of age at the time of his execution : and that he was a Bramin, a rank considered sacred amongst the Hindoos.
P. COLQUHOUN, LL. D.
PUBLISHED IN THE YEAR 1800.
Next to the blessings which a nation derives from an excellent constitution and system of general laws, are those advantages which result from a well-regulated and energetic plan of police, conducted and enforced with purity, activity, vigilance, and discretion.
Upon this depends, in so great a degree, the comfort, the happiness, and the true liberty and security of the people, that too much labour and attention cannot possibly be bestowed in rendering coinplete the domestic administration of justice, in all cases of criminal delinquency.
That much remains to be done in this respect no person will deny; all ranks must bear testimony to the dangers which both life and property are at present subjected to, by the number of criminal people, who, from various causes (which it is the object of the writer of these pages to explain,) are suffered with impunity to repeat acts of licentiousness and mischief, and to commit depredations upon indivi.luals, and the public.-In vain do we boast of those liberties which are our birthright, ifthe vilest and most depraved part of the community are suffered to deprive us of the privilege of travelling upon the highways, or of approaching the capital in any direction after dark, without risk of being assaulted and robbed; and perhaps wounded or murdered.
In vain may we boast of the security which our laws afford us, if we cannot lie down to rest in our habitations, without the dread of a burglary being committed, our property invaded, and our lives exposed to imminent danger before the approach of morning.
Imperfect must be, either the plan or the execution, or both, of our criminal code, if crimes are found to increase ; if the moral principle ceases to be a check upon a vast proportion of the lower ranks of the people; and if small thefts are known to prevail in such a degree, as to affect almost all ranks of the community who have any property to lose, as often as opportunities occur, whereby pilfering in a little way can be effected without detection.
If in addition to this, the peace of society can, on every
specious pretence, be disturbed by the licentious clamours or turbulent effusions arising from the ill-regulated passions of vulgar life, surely it becomes an interesting inquiry, worthy the attention of every intelligent member of the community, from what source spring these numerous inconveniences; and where is a remedy to be found for so many accumulated evils ? -In developing the causes which have produced that want of security, which it is believed prevails in no other civilized country in so great a degree as in England, it will be necessary to examine how far the system of criminal jurisprudence has been, hitherto, applicable to the prevention of crimes.
If we look back to the measures pursued by our ancestors two centuries ago, and before that period, we shall find that many wholesome laws were made with a view to prevention, and to secure the good behaviour of persons likely to commit offences. Since that æra in our history, a different plan has been pursued. Few regulations have been established to restrain vice, or to render difficult the commission of crimes; while the statute books have been filled with numerous laws, in many instances doubtfully expressed, and whose leading feature has generally been severe punishment.' These circumstances, aided by the false mercy of juries in cases of slightoffences, have tended to let loose upon society a body of criminal individuals, who under a better police,--an improved system of legislation, and milder punishments,--might, after a correction in penitentiary houses, or employment in out-door labour, under proper restraints, have been restored to society as useful members.
As the laws are at present administered, it is a melancholy truth, not to be contradicted, that the major part of the criminals who infest this metropolis, although committed by magistrates for trial on very satisfactory proof, are returned upon the public in vast numbers, year after year; encouraged