SENTENCING OF EDWARD KELLY
30th October 1880
leans on the dock, as he did for his famous pre-sentence
debate with Sir Redmond Barry. A roughly drawn
study for the Sketcher.
court crier having called upon all to observe a strict
silence while the Judge pronounced the awful sentence
of death: his Honour said; Edward Kelly, the
verdict pronounced by the jury is one which you must
have fully expected.
prisoner: Yes, under
His Honour: No circumstances that I can conceive
could have altered the result of the trial.
not from what you now conceive, but if you had heard
me examine the witnesses it would have been different.
His Honour: The facts are so numerous, and
so convincing, not only as regards the original offence
with which you are charged, but with respect to a long
series of transactions covering a period of eighteen
months, that no rational person would hesitate to arrive
at any other conclusion but that the verdict of the
jury is irresistible, and that it is right. I have
no desire to inflict on you any personal remarks. It
is not becoming that I should endeavour to aggravate
the sufferings with which your mind must be sincerely
I don't think that; my mind is as easy as the mind
of any man in this world, as I am prepared to show
before God and man.
His Honour: It is blasphemous for
you to say that. You appear to revel in the
idea of having put men to death.
men than I have put men to death, but I am the last
man in the world that would take a man's life. Two
years ago - even if my own life was at stake - and
I am confident, if I thought a man would shoot me
- I would give him a chance of keeping his life,
and would part with my own; but if I knew that through
him innocent persons' lives were at stake, I certainly
would have to shoot him if he forced me to do so;
but I would want to know that he was really going
to take my innocent life.
His Honour: Your statement involves a cruelly
wicked charge of perjury against a phalanx of witnesses.
dare say; but a day will come, at a bigger Court
than this, when we shall see which is right and which
is wrong. No matter how long a man lives he is bound
to come to judgement somewhere, and as well here
as anywhere. It will be different the next time there
is a Kelly trial; for they are not all killed. It
would have been good for the Crown had I examined
the witnesses, and I would have stopped a lot of
the reward, I can assure you, and I don't know but
I won't do it yet if allowed.
Honour: An offence of this kind is of no ordinary
character. Murders had been discovered which had
been committed under circumstances of great atrocity.
They proceeded from motives other than those which
actuated you. They had their origin in many sources.
Some have been committed from a sordid desire to
take from others the property they had acquired;
some from jealousy, some from a desire of revenge,
but yours is a more aggravated crime, and one of
larger proportions; for, with a party of men, you
took arms against society, organised as it is for
mutual protection and for respect of law.
The prisoner: That
is how the evidence came out here. It appeared that
I deliberately took up arms, of my own accord, and
induced the other three to join me, for the purpose
of doing nothing but shooting down the police.
Honour: In new communities, where the bonds
of societies are not so well linked together as in
older countries, there is unfortunately a class which
disregards the evil consequences of crime. Foolish,
inconsiderate, ill-conducted, and unprincipled youths
unfortunately abound, and unless they are made to
consider the consequences of crime, they are led
to imitate notorious felons whom they regard as self-made
heroes. It is right, therefore, that they should
be asked to consider and reflect upon what the life
of a felon is. A felon who has cut himself off from
all, and who declines all the affections, charities,
and all the obligations of society, is as helpless
and as degraded as a wild beast of the field; he
has nowhere to lay his head; he has no one to prepare
for him the comforts of life; he suspects his friends,
and he dreads his enemies. He is in constant alarm
lest his pursuers should reach him, and his only
hope is that he might lose his life in what he considers
a glorious struggle for existence. That is the life
of an outlaw or felon, and it would be well for those
young men who are so foolish as to consider that
it is brave of a man to sacrifice the lives of his
fellow creatures in carrying out his own wild ideas,
to see that it is a life to be avoided by every possible
means, and to reflect that the unfortunate termination
of the felon's life is a miserable death. New South
Wales joined with Victoria is providing ample inducement
to persons to assist in having you and your companions
apprehended; but by some spell, which I cannot understand
-- a spell which exists in all lawless communities
more or less, and which may be attributed either
to a sympathy for the outlaws, or a dread of the
consequences which would result from the performance
of their duty -- no persons were found who would
be tempted by the reward or love of country, or the
love of order, to give you up. The love of obedience
to the law has been set aside, for reasons difficult
to explain, and there is something extremely wrong
in a country where a lawless band of men are able
to live for eighteen months, disturbing society.
During your short life you have stolen according
to your own statements over 200 horses.
The prisoner: Who
Honour: More than one witness has testified
that you made that statement on several occasions.
The prisoner: That
charge has never been proved against me, and
it is held in English law that a man is innocent
until proven guilty.
Honour: You are self-accused. The statement
was made voluntarily by yourself that you and your
companions committed attacks on two banks, and appropriated
therefrom large sums of money amounting to several
thousands of pounds. Further, I cannot conceal from
myself the fact that an expenditure of 50,000 pounds
has been rendered necessary in consequence of acts
with which you and your party have been connected.
We have had samples of felons, all of whom have come
to ignominious deaths. Still the effect expected
from their punishment has not been produced. This
is much to be deplored. When such examples as those
are so often repeated society must be reorganised,
or it must soon be seriously affected. Your unfortunate
and miserable companions have died a death which
probably you might rather envy, but you are not offered
Honour then sentenced the prisoner to death in the
usual form, ending with the words, May the
Lord have mercy on your soul.
The prisoner: I
will go a little further than that, and say I will
see you there when I go.