William Duell Executed for Murder
Who Came to Life Again While Preparing for Dissection in Surgeons' Hall
This man met a better fate than a criminal in a similar situation in Germany. The body of a notorious malefactor was stretched out upon the table, before an assembly of German surgeons, for dissection. The operator, in placing it in a proper position, felt life in it; whereupon he thus addressed his brethren of the faculty, met to witness the operation:
'I am pretty certain, gentlemen, from the warmth of the subject, and the flexibility of the limbs, that by a proper degree of attention and care the vital heat would return, and life in consequence take place. But when it is considered what a rascal we should again have among us, that he was hanged for so cruel a murder, and that, should we restore him to life, he would probably kill somebody else: I say, gentlemen, all these things considered, it is my opinion that we had better proceed in the dissection.' Whether this harangue, or the fear of being disappointed in so sumptuous a surgical banquet, operated on their consciences, we cannot tell; but, certain it is, they needed accordance; and the operator, on the signal, plunged his knife into the breast of the culprit, thereby at once precluding all dread of future assassinations - all hope of future repentance.
Duell was convicted of occasioning the death of Sarah Griffin, at Acton, by robbing and ill-treating