Relative to the Case of these three unfortunate young
Boys, CHARLES M'LAREN, THOMAS GRIERSON, and
JAMES M'EWEN, who were lately Sentenced to be
Executed at Edinburgh, on Wednesday the 12th
February, 1823, for Housebreaking and Theft.
THE following very sensible and considerate Letter, relative to
the case of these unhappy young boys, lately condemned to
be executed in this City, for Housebreaking and Theft, is copied
from the Edinburgh Weekly Journal of Wednesday the 22d of
January last; and, we certainly concur in opinion with the writer,
" in viewing the probable execution of this sentence with feelings
of deep regret, and of considering the punishment of these boys
as arising in a great measure, if not wholly, from the untoward
circumstances in which it has been their unhappy lot to be placed;"
yet, the crimes for which they were convicted has become of late
so very prevalent in this place, and almost all too perpetrated by
youths of their age and character, that an example, perhaps, has
become absolutely necessary.
To the Editor of the Edinburgh Weekly Journal.
Sir....I observe from the newspapers, that a few days ago, several
boys, from thirteen to seventeen years of age, have been condemn-
ed to death in this city, for the crime of housebreaking and theft
and that in passing sentence, the presiding Judge intimated to
two of them, that they were to expect no alleviation of the sentence
Indeed, from the crime having become very prevalent in this part
of the country, and from the circumstance of the public prosecu-
tor's having declined to restrict the libel to an arbitrary punish-
ment, it is generally believed that it is intended to carry the dread-
ful sentence into execution.
I am far from being singular in viewing the probable execution
of this sentence with feelings of deep regret, and of considering
the punishment of these unhappy boys as arising in a great mea-
sure, if not wholly, from the untoward circumstances in which it
has been their unhappy lot to be placed. Need I recapitulate the
history of such beings ? Born probably of vicious and depraved
parents, neglected in their education, placed among the most
worthless as companions, encouraged to pilfer by cunning and
unprincipled resetters, and not arrived at the period of life, when
the reasoning powers can enable them to counteract the errors of
their education,... they are brought to the gallows as mere victims
of misfortune, whose fate can excite only pity and commisseration.
Is it therefore just, or consistent with the rules of enlightened
jurisprudence, to inflict upon such young and misguided creatures,
that punishment which is the doom of the murderer and assassin ?
Severe as our laws have often been held in punishing with death
crimes short of murder, they contract a feature of barbarity when
enforced against persons of such tender years.
I think it unnecessary to enlarge on this matter. My sole mo-
tive is to draw the public attention to the case, and in this way
perhaps, to induce an application to be made for a commutatien
of the sentence, before it is too late. I am, &c.
Jan. 21, 1823.
We having heard, with great satisfaction, that these unfortunate
boys have behaved in the most becoming manner since their con-
demnation, and has given good grounds for believing that they are
indeed striving tor an interest in the atoning blood of a crucified
saviour. We sincerely pray, that they may obtain pardon for all
their manifold transgressions, that they may be supported through
life, and at death, by a firm reliance on the sufferings and merit of
the Redeemer of lost mankind, and ultimately be admitted into
the kingdom of glory; and may all others, particularly the youth,
take warning by their awful fate, and shun all evil ways and com-
panions ere it be too late. Edinburgh....Printed for James M'Lean.
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Date of publication:
1823 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.2(31)
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