The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

« previous page | book contents | start of this chapter | next page »

conduct his defence; and retained old Robert Holmes to make the speech to the jury; knowing that Holmes would repeat, improve, and redouble all the "sedition" which we were desirous to inculcate. He did so; and startled the Court and the public by a stern and passionate denunciation of the whole course of British Government in Ireland. What was more wonderful, he dared this with safety to his client. The thing came too quick after the "slipped lists" and packed jury in O'Connell's case (which Lord Denman had said turned trial by jury in Ireland into a "fraud, a delusion, and a snare)," and they thought they could not repeat that game so soon. The Crown left on the panel of twenty-four three Repealers. Those three attended in court, were sworn on the jury, and refused to convict. Chief-Justice Blackburne kept them confined without food or drink for twenty-six hours, when they were discharged This was the first State Trial in Irish history, so far as I know, in which the Crown had failed to pack the jury strictly; and the first in which a conviction was missed. It gave the Nation, probably, more popularity and larger influence amongst the people than it would otherwise have enjoyed; and thereafter it proceeded very diligently and inveterately, exposing, from week to week, the plots of the English enemy.*

I have mentioned that the Coercion Bill was defeated; this was on May 25th. Sir Robert Peel immediately resigned office, and left the responsibility of dealing with the Irish affair to the Whigs. He knew he might do so safely. His system was inaugurated. His two great ideas—Free Trade and Police Administration—were fully recognized by the Whigs; and Lord John Russell was even a blind bigot about what he imagined to be Political Economy. Sir Robert might retire to Tamworth, and "plant his cabbages." ...continue reading »


* The prosecuted article was one in reply to a London Ministerial journal, which, in advocating Coercion for Ireland, had pointed out that the railroads then in progress of construction would soon bring every part of the island within six hours of the garrison of Dublin. The Nation showed how effectually railroads could be made impassable to troops—how easily troops could be destroyed upon them, and how useful the iron of them would be in making pikes.

« previous page | book contents | start of this chapter | next page »

Page 111

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


Library Ireland Facebook