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.
||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
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.