Page:1902 Encyclopædia Britannica - Volume 26 - AUS-CHI.pdf/627

This page needs to be proofread.


P UNISHMENT 577 membra ejus amputentur, et interiora sua intra ventrem week following the third Sunday after sentence was suum capiantur et in ignem ponantur et ibidem ipso vivente passed. The persons required to be present are the sheriff, comburantur, et quod caput ejus amputetur, quodque the gaoler, chaplain, and surgeon of the prison, and such corpus ejus in quatuor partes dividatur et illo ponantur other officers of the prison as the sheriff requires; justices ubi dominus rex eas assignare voluit.” There is a tradi- of the peace for the jurisdiction to which the prison tion that Harrison the regicide after being disembowelled belongs, and such of the relatives, or such other persons as rose and boxed the ears of the executioner. the sheriff or visiting justices allow, may also attend. It In Townley’s case (18 Howell, State Trials, 350, 351), is usual to allow the attendance of some representatives of there is a ghastly account of the mode of executing the the Press. The death of the prisoner is certified by the sentence ; and in that case the executioner cut the traitor’s prison surgeon, and a declaration that judgment of death throat. In the case of the Cato Street conspiracy (1820, has been executed is signed by the sheriff. An inquest is 33 Howell, State Trials, 1566), after the traitors had been then held on the body by the coroner for the jurisdiction hanged their heads were cut off by a man in a mask whose and a jury from which prison officers are excluded. The dexterity led to the belief that he was a surgeon. certificate and declaration, and a duplicate of the coroner’s Female traitors were until 1790 liable to be drawn to inquiry also, are sent to the Home Office, or in Ireland to execution and burnt alive. In that year hanging was the Lord-Lieutenant, and the body of the prisoner is substituted for burning (30 Geo. III. c. 48). interred in quicklime within the prison walls if space is In 1814, so much of the sentence as related to dis- available. It is also the practice to hoist a black flag on embowelling and burning the bowels was abolished (54 the prison at the moment of execution, and to display it Geo. III. c. 146), and the king was empowered to substi- for an hour, and to toll the prison bell, or the bell of a tute decapitation for hanging. But it was not till 1870 neighbouring church, for fifteen minutes before and fifteen that the portions of the sentence as to drawing and minutes after the execution. quartering were abolished (33 and 34 Viet. c. 23, § 31). These regulations apply only to executions for murder ; The mode of executing male offenders other than traitors but since the passing of the Act there have been no execuhas in England almost always been by hanging. The tions for any other crime within the United Kingdom. more primitive modes of carrying out the sentence wTere In Scotland capital punishment can be imposed only for gradually disused, and the present system of hanging by treason, murder, and offences against 10 Geo. IV. c. 38, use of the drop is said to have been inaugurated by the i.e., wilful shooting, stabbing, strangling, or throwing exertions of Earl Ferrers. The form of scaffold now in corrosives with intent to murder, maim, disfigure, disable, use has under the gallows a drop constructed on the or do grievous bodily harm, in all cases where if death principle of the trap-doors on a theatrical stage, upon had ensued the offence would have been murder. Prior which the convict is placed under the gallows, a white cap to 1887 rape, robbery, wilful fire-raising, and incest, and is placed over his head, and when the halter has been many other crimes, were also capital offences; but in practice properly adjusted the drop is withdrawn by a mechanical the pains of law were restricted at the instance of the contrivance, and the convict falls to a distance calculated prosecution. The sentence is carried out by hanging. It to fracture the cervical vertebrae, the noose tightening so is accomplished under the supervision of the magistrates as to stop respiration, and the convict hangs until life is of the burgh in which it is decreed to take place; and extinct. in lieu of the inquest necessary in England and Ireland It was until quite lately considered essential that an inquiry is held at the instance of the procurator-fiscal executions, like trials, should be public, and be carried out before a sheriff or sheriff-substitute. in a manner calculated to impress evil-doers. Partly to In Ireland capital punishment can be imposed for the this idea, partly to notions of revenge and temporal same offences as in England, except offences under the punishment of sin, is probably due the rigour of the Dockyards Protection Act, 1772 (12 Geo. III. c. 24), and administration of the English law. But the methods of it is carried out in the same manner. execution were unseemly, as delineated in Hogarth’s print Offences under Military Law.—Thus far only crimes of the execution of the idle apprentice, and were ineffectual against the ordinary law of the land have been dealt with. in reducing the bulk of crime, which was augmented by But both the Naval Discipline Act of 1866 and the Army the inefficiency of the police and the uncertainty and Act empower courts-martial to pass sentence for a number severity of the law, which rendered persons tempted to of offences against military and naval laws. Such sencommit crime either reckless or confident of escape. The tences are rarely if ever passed where an ordinary court is scandals attending public executions led to an attempt to within reach, or except in time of war. The offences alter the law in 1841, although many protests had been extend from traitorous communication with the enemy made long before, among them those of the novelist and cowardice on the field to falling asleep while acting as Fielding. But perhaps the most forcible and effectual a sentinel on active service. was that of Charles Dickens in his letters to the Times British Colonies and Possessions.—Under the Indian written after mixing in the crowd gathered to witness Penal Code sentence of death may be passed for waging the execution of the Mannings at Horsemonger Lane war against the king (§ 121) and for murder (§ 302). If Gaol in 1849. After his experiences he came to the the murder is committed by a man under sentence of conclusion that public executions attracted the depraved transportation for life the death penalty must be imposed and those affected by morbid curiosity; and that the (§ 303). In other cases it is alternative. This code has spectacle had neither the solemnity nor the salutary been in substance adopted in Ceylon, the Straits Settleeffect which should attend the execution of public justice. ments, and Hong-Kong, and in the Sudan. In most of the His views were strongly resisted in some quarters; and British colonies and possessions the death penalty may it was not until 1868 (31 and 32 Viet. c. 24) that they be imposed only in the case of high treason, wilful were accepted, and executions for murder conducted in murder, piracy with violence. But in New South Wales private in England. Under that Act (which was adopted and Victoria sentence of death may be passed for rape from similar legislation already in force in the Australian and criminal abuse of girls under ten. In Queensland the colonies) convicted murderers are hanged within the law was the same until the passing of the Criminal Code walls of a prison. As a general rule the sentence is carried of 1899. out at 8 a.m. on a week-day (not being Monday), in the Throughout British South Africa the criminal law is S. II. — 73