Sobs, Sods and Posies
Theosophist, August, 1880
A few weeks ago, one George Nairns, a British sailor, brutally murdered at Calcutta a poor police sepoy who was quietly standing on his beat, and with whom he had never spoken or even exchanged a word before. The miscreant knocked down his victim, and then cut his throat with a knife which he had brought ashore purposely to kill some one with. He was tried and convicted, but recommended to mercy by the jury. But the Court, reprimanding the jurors for a recommendation so utterly uncalled for under the circumstances, gave sentence; and the Government of India, upon being appealed to, very sensibly and justly affirmed the decision of the Court. Well, this red-handed murderer was hung, the other day, and his body interred at the Scotch Burial Ground, Calcutta. The Indian Daily News says:
There were present at the cemetery, some time before the funeral cortege arrived, about fifty ladies and gentlemen. On the arrival of the hearse, the coffin, which bore the inscription of “George Nairns, executed July 23rd, 1880, aged 29 years,” was covered by an Union Jack, and was shouldered by six of Nairns’ shipmates, and carried to the foot of the grave. The Rev. Mr. Gillan officiated, and in the first instance read out those portions of scripture which Nairns was most fond of hearing read to him after his condemnation. He then referred in general to the terms of the statement made by Nairns on the scaffold, and more particularly addressing the sailors present, he warned them to take example from the fate which had befallen Nairns, and earnestly advised them to avoid the low Native liquor shops. The usual prayers were then offered up. On the coffin being lowered into the grave, many a sod was thrown in pityingly, and many a merciful womanly hand flung in a bunch of flowers, and many a head was turned aside to wipe away a tear for the shameful end of a young man whose career had promised much better things. At the conclusion, the Rev. Mr. Godwin, assisted by several ladies who were present, sang the hymn, Safe in the Arms of Jesus.
Who would not be a murderer of sepoys, after that! Fifty gushing ladies and gentleman; the Union Jack to enwrap one’s coffin; consoling texts read from the Bible, his favourites after his condemnation (cheap country liquor was his specialty before); sods thrown “pityingly” in—for good luck, doubtless, as slippers are thrown at weddings; sweet nosegays; and pearly tears raining down fair cheeks—what more could any respectable assassin demand? What, indeed, but to know that, like poor Rip Van Winkle’s drink, this murder should not count against him? And even this comfort was not withheld by the Church; for, to top off all, the winsome Reverend Godwin and his fair slobberers launched out with “Safe in the Arms of Jesus”. Happy George! It is to be regretted, however, that our Calcutta contemporary omitted one important fact, without knowing which the reader cannot fully appreciate the beauties of the Christian Atonement. In whose arms, let us ask, is the murdered sepoy “safe”?