Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Halifax Gibbet and Gibbet Law - John Ryley Robinson 1877

Halifax Gibbet and Gibbet Law by John Ryley Robinson was published in Tweddell's North of England Tractates No 8 1871

Halifax Gibbet.
by George Markham Tweddell
[Tractates No. 7 is a prose article on the same subject
written by John Ryley Robinson, Halifax Gibbet and
Gibbet Law, with a list of malefactors there beheaded.]
Up these old steps, how many a Thief has trod
Whose faltering feet ne’er press’d the worst of men,
’T is bad use to put the worst of men,
Sending them unprepared to meet their God.
But he well knows what circumstances make 5
The pliant youthful heart to Vice inclined;
Knows how well rightly has been train’d the mind,
Goodness is the result. He ne’er will take
Vengeance that we may suffer for the sake
Of satisfying Vengeance. They who here 10
Dragg’d Thieves to suffer death, without one tear
For those who at the uprising axe did quake
With horror, acted mercifully well,
Compared with those who preach an everlasting Hell.

They who in Hardwick Forest ever stole 15
One shilling and an eight value, then
Need seek no mercy from their fellow-men,
Who quickly did upon the Culprits fall
And, after short respite, did hither haul
The trembling Thieves to meet their direful doom. 20
Bright gleam’d the falling axe, and soon the tomb
Cover’d each mutilated corpse. Would that all
Who help to form the characters of those
Children, our future People soon to be,
And who must aid or mar prosperity 25
In our lov’d land—obey’d the unchanging laws
Of Nature, and taught others so to do,
Man then would never seek to lay his fellow low.
For Scottish “Maiden,” and for “Guillotine”
Of our French neighbours, each the idea took 30
From Halifax’s “Gibbet:” but I look
Forward with faith, and wiser men, I ween,
Will never sacrifice one human life,
Save in sheer self-defence. Our prisons can
Hold in safe keeping the poor brutal man 35
Whose liberty to others may be rife
With danger. Even as a mere machine,
An able-bodied man I’d not destroy:
Think what it costs to rear a single boy
From infancy to manhood! Let this scene 40
Of bygone bloodshed, now so peaceful, be
An emblem of advanced humanity.
How marvellously Halifax has grown
In manufactures, commerce, liberty!
And when true education is made free 45
To every child, and Knowledge broadcast sown,
Crime with its parent Ignorance will flee,
And Capital and Labour so combine
As to make Earth an Eden more divine,
And man will be industrious as the bee, 50
Knowing that none will of the honey rob
Those who produce it. Think not, foolish man,
That we in civilisation never can
Surpass the Past. I tell thee that the Mob
Will yet arrive at Manhood, and that there 55
Will yet be happiness which all will share.
by George Markham Tweddell

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