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A Book of Remarkable Criminals by Irving

Dyson quitted the shores of England


Against

the advice of all her friends Mrs. Dyson had come back from America to give evidence against Peace. To the detective who saw her at Cleveland she said, "I will go back if I have to walk on my head all the way"; and though she little knew what she would have to go through in giving her evidence, she would do it again under the circumstances. "My opinion is," she said, "that Peace is a perfect demon--not a man. I am told that since he has been sentenced to death he has become a changed character. That I don't believe. The place to which the wicked go is not bad enough for him. I think its occupants, bad as they might be, are too good to be where he is. No matter where he goes, I am satisfied that there will be hell. Not even a Shakespeare could adequately paint such a man as he has been. My lifelong regret will be that I ever knew him."

With these few earnest words Mrs. Dyson quitted the shores of England, hardly clearing up the mystery of her actual relations with Peace.

A woman with whom Mrs. Dyson very much resented finding herself classed--inebriety would appear to have been their only common weakness--was Mrs. Thompson, the "traitress Sue." In spite of the fact that on February 5 Mrs. Thompson had applied to the Treasury for L100, blood money due her for assisting the police in the identification of Peace, she was at the same time carrying on a friendly correspondence with her lover and making attempts to

see him. Peace had written to her before his trial hoping she would not forsake him; "you have been my bosom friend, and you have ofttimes said you loved me, that you would die for me." He asked her to sell some goods which he had left with her in order to raise money for his defence. The traitress replied on January 27 that she had already sold everything and shared the proceeds with Mrs. Peace. "You are doing me great injustice," she wrote, "by saying that I have been out to 'work' with you. Do not die with such a base falsehood on your conscience, for you know I am young and have my living and character to redeem. I pity you and myself to think we should have met." After his condemnation Mrs. Thompson made repeated efforts to see Peace, coming to Leeds for the purpose. Peace wrote a letter on February 9 to his "poor Sue," asking her to come to the prison. But, partly at the wish of Peace's relatives and for reasons of their own, a permission given Mrs. Thompson by the authorities to visit the convict was suddenly withdrawn, and she never saw him again.

III

HIS TRIAL AND EXECUTION

In the lives of those famous men who have perished on the scaffold their behaviour during the interval between their condemnation and their execution has always been the subject of curiosity and interest.

It may be said at once that nothing could have been more deeply religious, more sincerely repentant, more Christian to all appearances than Peace's conduct and demeanour in the last weeks of his life. He threw himself into the work of atonement with the same uncompromising zeal and energy that he had displayed as a burglar. By his death a truly welcome and effective recruit was lost to the ranks of the contrite and converted sinners. However powerless as a controlling force--and he admitted it--his belief in God and the devil may have been in the past, that belief was assured and confident, and in the presence of death proclaimed itself with vigour, not in words merely, but in deeds.


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