Bust of John Passmore Edwards

The Autobiography of John Passmore Edwards

A Run for Life


While I was so engaged with Mr. Stokes, two brothers-Lightfoot by name-were executed at Bodmin for murdering Mr. Neville Norway, a well-known Cornishman, and I, like thousands of other foolish people from far and near, went to witness the public tragedy. After it was over I walked from Bodmin to Truro-twenty-two miles. Being alone nearly all the way, I had ample time to think well over the event of the day, and concluded, in my own way, that death punishments were more harmful than otherwise; that they placed criminals beyond the reach of repentance or reform; that publicly taking away human life in the presence of thousands of spectators did not teach the sanctity of life, but the contrary; that the doom of executed men was irrevocable; and if the voice of circumstances, as interpreted at the trial, did not reveal the truth, a huge mistake might have been made.
Bodmin Gaol When I had walked more than three-quarters of the journey, I overtook, in a somewhat lonely part of the road, two men who had also seen the execution. They accosted me, and after a little conversation had passed between us, not liking their appearance, and to leave them behind, I more than once quickened my pace, and they did the same. They, in fact, continued to force their attention on me, and, acting as if they understood each other, awoke in me a suspicion that they meant no good, and intended to rob me. I felt alarmed, and commenced running as fast as I could, and, to my horror, found they were following me with all their might. I, being younger, and a pretty good runner, gradually left them behind, and after running about a quarter of a mile they gave up the chase. I, though getting tired and footsore, continued to run for a mile or more.
But I saw no more of the two men, who probably intended to rob me, and, if they did, rather than be found out they might have served me as the Lightfoots had served Mr. Neville Norway, and I should not be here to tell the tale.
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April 18, 2005
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© Dean Evans 2003