Chapter 23 » 23.100

Friends and state authority

Crime and punishment

In the evening Martha Savory, my mother [Mary Dudley] and I went to Newgate [Gaol], where we met Elizabeth Fry, Peter Bedford and Edward Harris. We saw about fifteen poor men under sentence of death, who soon collected round us and stood with the most becoming and quiet attention, whilst my mother was engaged to preach the gospel of reconciliation… The two especially who had but a few hours to live, were encouraged to cast themselves upon the mercy and forgiveness of an all-gracious God whose power and goodness are the same as when they were manifested to the thief upon the cross… They wept freely, and though not able to say much, we fully believe they felt. It was difficult to tear ourselves from such a scene, and we turned from these poor sufferers under the feeling of indignant repugnance to the sanguinary nature of those laws which put so little value upon human life, and adjudge punishments so disproportioned to and so unlikely to prevent the renewal of crimes.

Elizabeth Dudley, 1818

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