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his judgment. We are all sworn to do our duty, and we cannot substitute for that the feelings of humanity, without violating our oaths, and breaking up the foundations of society.
A juror is placed in a post of importance. He is not only to protect those who are unjustly accused, but he must defend the laws. A soldier who is placed to guard a public treasure would be thought unworthy of his station should he yield to the entreaties of the poor and destitute who should solicit of him the smallest part of what his duty bound him to secure. He might weep over their distresses, but he must deny their petitions. It is in like manner incumbent upon you, if you cannot acquit the prisoner consistently with your oaths, to suppress the feelings of the man, and do the duty of the citizen.
You will weigh the arguments of the counsel for the prisoner with great attention and circumspection, and if anything said by them, founded upon the evidence, should excite in you a reasonable doubt as to his guilt, it will be your duty to acquit him. But if, after all, no such doubt remains, you must say that he is guilty. The accused is young; but his youth alone '' is not to excuse him. Led into bad courses, the natural termination of which is crime, if he escape because he is young, then the young will be released from one of the strongest, restrains from vice, the fear of punishment.
If, after deliberating well upon the evidence, your judgments are satisfied that the prisoner is guilty, your verdict will pronounce him so, notwithstanding the possibility that, after all, he may be innocent.
It is no reproach to a jury, nor is it any cause for troubling their consciences, that one whom they have convicted is afterwards discovered to be innocent, provided they make the best use of their faculties, and exercise the whole power of their mind in relation to the evidence. Extraordinary instances of the fallibility of human means of discovering the truth sometimes appear. They should be regarded as warnings to proceed cautiously, but not as grounds for rejecting all belief in evidence. Jurors who have faithfully discharged their duty may repose their heads upon their pillows with
a quiet conscience, whatever may appear afterwards to render doubtful their decisions.
The cause is now submitted to you-you will discharge your duty like faithful citizens, by acquitting, if you can conscientiously, otherwise by convicting the prisoner.
The case was committed to the Jury at half past four in the afternoon and at nine in the evening they returned into court with a verdict of Guilty.
February 17. The Prisoner was brought into court and put at the bar.
The Solicitor General. May it please your Honors, Stephen Merrill Clark, the prisoner at the bar, has been indicted by the Grand Jury of the body of this County of Essex, for the crime of arson. To this indictment he has pleaded that he is not guilty-able and learned counsel have been assigned, to assist him in his defense-an upright and impartial jury, almost wholly of his own selection, have been impanelled and sworn to decide the cause between the Commonwealth and the prisoner-who, after a patient hearing of the evidence, have pronounced a verdict that he is guilty. In the progress of this trial, the prisoner has received all the aid, and been indulged with all the privileges, which, as a citizen of this Commonwealth, he is entitled to claim. By a statute of the Commonwealth, this dangerous and detestable crime is punished with death. I do, therefore, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, move this Honorable Court, that sentence of death be now passed on the prisoner at the bar.
The CHIEF JUSTICE asked the prisoner if he had any reason to assign why the Court should not proceed to pass sentence upon him. The Prisoner said that he had no other reason than that he was innocent of the offense with which he was charged.
The CHIEF JUSTICE. Stephen M. Clark: The most solemn and distressing of all duties is now devolved upon the Court, that of awarding against you the sentence of the law, for the crime, of which, after a full and fair trial, you have been legally convicted.
The sympathy felt by all towards your aged parents and
your sisters, and all others who may be interested in your welfare, would, if it were possible, have saved you from the dreadful doom which awaits you; but the proofs of guilt were too strong to allow the most compassionate heart an avenue for doubt. By your own confessions, free and voluntary, not, I fear, in penitence, but with an obdurate indifference to the consequences of your crime, and at times with an apparent exultation at the destruction it produced, you seem to have invoked the vengeance of the law upon your head, and prepared the community to see with melancholy acquiescence, young as you are, the always terrible execution of the last power of the law.
Frequent as may have been incendiary attempts, and successful as they sometimes have undoubtedly been, hitherto they have been veiled in darkness, and the cruel perpetrators have been suffered, by a wise but inscrutable Providence, to escape detection and punishment. But the wicked shall not go unpunished; and when the infirmity of human tribunals shall be superceded by the perfect justice of Heaven, these deadly sins will assuredly meet their just retribution.
How hard must be that heart! how desperate, how worse than savage, which can deliberately meditate a midnight conflagration, preparing with steady hand the materials of mischief, regardless, if not contemplating with delight, the terror, the cries, the slow and painful death, of the aged, the sick, the tender infants, multitudes of whom are exposed by the ferocious incendiary to the most dreadful of all tortures, but that of guilt!
And if it be possible to imagine a still more diabolical spirit, it is his, who, beholding the ruins which he has caused, ignorant of the extent of the desolation, and uncertain whether the destruction of human lives has not accumulated horror upon the scene, can exult at the wretchedness he has produced, and, in the triumph of successful villainy, anticipate future schemes of more extensive destruction.
If there be a wretch, who, more than others, deserves the appellation of "enemy of the human race," it is he who is thus described. Murder, robbery, piracy, fall, in the black
catalogue of crimes, below the crime of arson. They have determinate objects, are limited in extent, and incited by passions which may be considered human. This is boundless in its consequences; property is the least of its expected victims; the malice of a demon, unassisted by cupidity, by particular revenge, or by any of the frail passions which usually lead to crime, is its sole instigator.
It is then the right, nay, the duty of society, to cut off from the earth, by ignominious death, him who would involve his fellow creatures in such indiscriminate destruction.
Young man! it is you, whose sad picture has thus been exhibited. The verdict of the jury, the evidence on which it is founded, warrant us in believing that it is not exaggerated. How then do you stand! Just at the threshold of life, in full health and vigor, with powers of mind and body fit for a long season of useful and active exertions, born and educated in a town, where you have undoubtedly received all the advantages of early education, of paternal advice, of religious instruction, of good example; yet, in despite of all these allurements to virtue, brought by a gradual but sure progress from idleness to vice, from vice to crime, till at last, contrary to the course of nature, your life is cut off, and you leave your aged parents to lament its short history even more than its dreadful termination. You perhaps believed that the arm of the law was too short to reach you; but it now has you in its power.
You probably have never thought, though you must have been taught, that the eye of Heaven would penetrate the darkness in which your crime was prepared, and the heart in which it was conceived; but you are shortly to appear before the eye which seeth all things even in darkness, and which knoweth the secrets of all hearts. What then is to be the business of the little remnant of your short and wicked life? Repentance-contrition-humbleness of heart-devout and earnest supplications for mercy-a broken spirit: These alone can stand you in stead, in the day of bitter sorrow, the fruit of your own wickedness: These alone can give you hope of avoiding that dreadful judgment to come, to which
the sentence of this human tribunal, will otherwise be but a passport.
Alas! that a youth of seventeen should be the subject of these painful remarks. Cruel they may seem, but they are not intended in cruelty-they are meant to melt, if it be possible, a heart which seems hitherto to have been a heart of stone, that it may receive the kindly seeds of religious consolation, which, whenever an avenue shall be opened, will be joyfully poured into it, by the ministers of the everlasting Gospel, who will, it is hoped, lead you into the way of salvation, notwithstanding the barriers which your crimes have established against it.
What a sad example you present to the youth of our country! Leaving, at an early age, the protection and necessary discipline of your parents, for the company of strange women -forsaking an honest employment, for the vices and temptations of idleness-despising the reproofs and the distress of your aged father, whose gray hairs are now visited by the worst of sorrows-and at last listening to the tremendous voice of insulted law and justice!
May the youth who are present, and those who shall hear of your untimely fate, take warning from so affecting an example! May they avoid temptation in the beginning! May they have the fear of God continually before their eyes! sensible that to despise his word, to turn a deaf ear to instruction, and to flee from the wholesome discipline of a parent's house, will soon or late end in bitter sorrow, if not in awful judg
It remains only for us to declare the sentence of the law, which is that you be carried hence to the prison, from whence you were taken, from thence to the place of execution, where you shall be hanged by the neck until you are dead! And may God of his infinite goodness, through the merits of the Savior, have mercy upon your soul!
During the interval between his sentence and execution (which " latter was appointed to take place on the 26th day of April) a