The Execution Of Israel Lipski

Posted: November 28, 2009 in Other Ripper Research
The Scene at Newgate.
 
[BY A SPECIAL REPORTER.]
 
THE EXECUTION.
 
This morning, at eight o’clock, in Newgate Gaol, Israel Lipski, the self-confessed murderer of Miriam Angel, was hanged. Although executions are so frequent in Newgate that the hideous black structure upon which they take place is never dismantled, this morning’s incident is not devoid of interest, partly on account of the race of the culprit, many years having elapsed since a Jew was sent to the scaffold in London, and partly on account of the mystery which, till last night’s confession of the prisoner set all doubts at rest, enveloped the case. It was not surprising, therefore, to find persons present at the scene who otherwise would certainly not have troubled themselves to visit Newgate at so early an hour of the morning, and on so bright a day. Incidentally it may be remarked that all the arrangements for the execution were excellently supervised by Mr. Alderman, Sir H.A. Isaacs, the Sheriff, and that no needless horror was added to the necessarily gloomy ceremonial.
Whether for Christian or Jew about to depart this life at the hands of the common hangman, the passing bell of St. Sepulchre’s Church is tolled "as for a parting soul" whenever an execution takes place at Newgate, and at a quarter to eight o’clock this morning its dreary tones sounded loudly through the Old Bailey. A great crowd had collected outside the gaol – orderly, but a little excited – and its members towards eight o’clock could be seen, by those who waited in the warder’s lodge, to be craning their necks forward to see if the "Black Flag" were yet hoisted. In the public-houses a roaring trade was being done; for those who had come to see the evidence of Lipski’s death were for the most part of the class which patronise the beer and gin-shop. Quietly the police walked backwards and forwards, keeping the throng from pressing upon the gates of the gaol, and gently removing some curious individual who had come to the warder’s lodge on the faint chance of gaining admission on some such frivolous plea as wanting to see Mr. Hayward, or the Sheriff, or the Under-Sheriff, and who would not go away till the strong but quiet arm of the law removed him. Tolling slowly, the bell seemed to move the minute hours along, till at last the warders who had charge of those of us who waited in the lodge signified that it was time for us to be moving to the scaffold-yard. The Sheriff (Mr. Alderman Isaacs), with the Under-Sheriff and a small party of gentlemen, had passed by the grated door which shut us in, and had gone to the condemned cell, where Berry was waiting to pinion the culprit, and the hands of the dial noted that the time of Lipski was now getting very short. Our route to the yard lay by a circuitous passage, which passed by some of the examining rooms of the gaol, and it certainly struck me that the walk which the culprit had to take to the place of his death was a long one. Having seen other criminals hanged, I had certainly a fear that the result would be some faintness of the condemned man, and that we should be witnesses of the painful scene; it was a long walk for us. "What," I thought, "will it be for Lipski!" The appearance of the yard was certainly, however, a surprise, and, at the risk of appearing somewhat frivolous, a pleasant surprise to me. When last I was at Newgate a black hideous scaffold had greeted me on entering the execution yard; a long repulsive structure, which with steps to mount and a narrow drop to stand upon, was calculated to chill the heart not only of the doomed, but the beholder. But this morning all was altered – a neat shed with a sloping roof and a falling window, so supported that, when standing on the drop, only the face and shoulders of the culprit could be seen, had been erected in one corner of the yard; the steps had been done away with, the entrance to the shed was on a level with the floor, and the drop opened into a deep brick-built cellar in the ground. It was, at any rate, not a repulsive place to die in, or to look at. It had nothing of the dread accessories of death about it: there was no open grave for the culprit near it; but for a rope which dangled near the drop, and which, curious to relate, was not used, there was nothing whatever to indicate that it was the official execution place for murderers. Slowly the bell tolled as we took up our places at the side of the shed, while some, who were Jews, opened their prayer-books, and began to recite the Hebrew prayers for the dying. Eight o’clock was now striking, and the hour of the condemned man had arrived.
Suddenly those who were standing nearest the door of the passages through which we had passed lifted their hats, a sure sign that the funeral procession of the prisoner was coming. Here I am bound to say there was a marked relief from the horrible accompaniments of the Christian execution. Usually, the first sounds that are heard of the approach of such a cortege as that which we were now awaiting are the wailing notes of the clergyman as he recites the most dolorous parts of the English Burial Service. "Man that is born of a woman" falls upon the ear in its most painful cadences, cutting the trembling culprit to the heart and troubling the minds of all onlookers. But this morning there was none of this annoyance. Slowly and silently advancing, there appeared first two warders directing the way, then a Jewish clergyman, habited in the graceful Eastern hat and gown, softly reciting the prayer (in Hebrew) which begins, "Hear, oh Israel, the Lord our God is one God. Blessed be the name of His glory and His kingdom for evermore." There is no uncomfortable noise; the sound comes through the corridor into the yard with a musical cadence; it soothed the spectators as it seemed to quiet the prisoner. Lipski followed, pinioned tightly but supported on either side by two warders who led him along slowly, and with much tenderness. I was much struck by his appearance, which altogether belies the extraordinary likenesses of him which appeared in a paper which caters for sensation. I had expected to see a somewhat dark and elderly-looking man, of European Jewish type, come into the corridor, instead of which there appeared a tall, thin, and very young-looking man, with light sandy hair, thin moustache and beard of the same colour – the very type of the actual Jew of the Holy Land.
 
Source: Te Aroha News, Volume V, Issue 225, 22 October 1887, Page 2
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