Wednesday, 16 January 2013

16th January 1813: An editorial in the Leeds Mercury responds to an 'Attentive Hearer' over Mellor's last words

The Leeds Mercury of Saturday 16th January responded to the supposed last words of George Mellor that a pseudonymous correspondent in the Leeds Intelligencer had heard:
In our last publication, we inserted an account of the execution of the murderers of Mr. Horsfall, which contained the following paragraph:—

“George Mellor prayed for about ten minutes; he spoke with great apparent fervency and devotion, confessing in general, the greatness of his sins, but without making any confession of the crime which he suffered.”—This statement is controverted by an anonymous writer in the Intelligencer, who asserts that Mellor  admitted in his prayer at the place of execution, that he was a murderer.—We can only repeat, that our statement was perfectly correct; and re-assert but neither in his prayer, or in any other part of his address, to be make the confession imputed to him by the writer; nor did he say one word about not dying game. The fact is this:—These men were impressed with a conviction, a most erroneous one, that the wicked and abominable oath of secrecy they had taken was binding upon their consciences. This fact we have from the best authority, from a Gentleman whose official capacity gives him the best opportunity of observing the demeanor and conduct of the prisoners, and who was present on the fatal occasion. This Gentleman also distinctly stated to the writer of this paragraph, that neither Mellor, or any other of the prisoners, did, in any manner, make any admission of their guilt. He had also the same assurance from the Rev. Brown whose office it was to attend these unhappy men in the last moments. To which we would add his own personal testimony, for conceiving it as a part of his duty, and a painful duty it was to be present at the execution of these unhappy men, he attended to all that was said by them, with the most anxious solicitude, to ascertain whether they had profited by the admonition of the Judge in making a confession of their guilt: but he did not hear a single expression admitting that they were guilty; much less a confession, in direct terms, that they were murderers. We have conceived it a duty we owe to ourselves and to the country, to state the grounds upon which we made, and now justify the assertion in our last publication, “that the murderers made no confession of their enormous crime.” That they were godly, no reasonable being that has heard or read the evidence, can entertain a particle doubt.

And the obstinate silence of the prisoners on this subject furnishes an additional doubt, if one were wanting, of the direful effects produced on the minds of ignorant men by the horrible plan of which we have unhappily heard so much, and by which numbers of deluded men have been induced to remain in a confederacy of which they disapprove, and to conceal crimes the most horrible. The prisoners at the place of execution, certainly made no protestations of their innocence.

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