Executed at Wicklow, in Ireland, in August, 1738, for murder.
WE have no particulars, either of the life of this criminal, or the circumstances attending the horrid crime for which he was executed. We have, indeed, found a note, briefly naming the case of George Manley, but evidently inserted for the purpose of introducing a singular speech, made by him to the spectators, at the place of execution, which evinces strong natural abilities, and a knowledge of mankind, seldom found in criminals of his description. As we have never met with a dying speech so satirical and severe upon the general turpitude of mankind, we readily present it to our readers. Be it said, that this man was hardened, fearless, or mad; we exclaim with Shakespeare, "If this be madness, there is method in it."
George Manley, having arrived at the place of execution, behaved in a strange and undaunted manner, addressing the spectators thus:
"You assemble to see -- What? -- A man take a leap into the abyss of death. Look, and you shall see me go, with as much courage as Curtius, when he leapt into the gulf to save his country from destruction. What then will will you see of me!--You say, that no man without virtue can be courageous. You see, I am courageous. You'll say, I have killed a man. -- Marlborough killed his thousands, and Alexander his millions: Marlborough and Alexander, and many others who have done the like, are famous in history for Great Men. But I killed one solitary man. -- Aye, that's the case. -- One solitary man. I'm a little murderer, and must be hanged. Marlborough and Alexander plundered countries -- They were Great Men. I ran in debt with the ale- wife, I must be hanged.
"Now, my friends, I have drawn a parallel between two of the greatest men that ever lived, and myself; but these were men of former days. Now I'll speak a word of some of the present days: How many men were lost in Italy and upon the Rhine, during the last war, for settling a king in Poland? Both sides could not be in the right; they are Great Men; but I killed a solitary man, I'm a little fellow. The King of Spain takes our ships, plunders our merchants, kills and tortures our men; but what of all that? What he does is good; he's a Great Man, he is clothed in purple, his instruments of murder are bright and shining, mine was, but a rusty gun; and so much for comparison.
"Now, I would fain know, what authority there is in Scripture for a rich man to murder, to plunder, to torture, and ravage whole countries; and what law it is, that condemns a poor man to death for killing a solitary man, or for stealing a solitary sheep to feed his family. But bring the matter closer to our own country: What is the difference between running in a poor man's debt, and by the power of gold, or any other privilege, preventing him from. obtaining his right; and clapping a pistol to a man's breast, and taking from him his purse? Yet the one shall thereby obtain a coach, and honours, and titles, &c. The other -- What? -- A cart and a rope.
"From what I have said, my brethren, you may, perhaps, imagine I am hardened; but believe me, I am fully convinced of my follies, and acknowledge the just judgment of God has overtaken me: I have no hopes, but from the merits of my Redeemer, who I hope will have mercy on me, as he knows that murder was far from my heart, and what I did was through rage and passion, being provoked thereto by the deceased.
Take warning, my dear comrades: Think! O think! what I would now give, that I had lived another life."