The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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to be drawn. The Crown officer blandly asked us whether we were satisfied that the box contained all the names,—a question which had never been answered in that office otherwise than in the affirmative. The Crown lawyers, therefore, and officials were surprised when I answered "No: I am not satisfied: I admit nothing: juries are packed here: I must see all the cards." The Queen's lawyers strongly objected to this course, and urged the officer to proceed to draw the names. After some time, he announced to me that such a question had never been raised before,—that he could not go out of the usual course,—that he would proceed with the business. Then I put on my hat, and said to Sir Colman O'Loghlen and Mr O'Hagan, my counsel, "Come, then;—we cannot, even by our presence, countenance such a transaction as this: let us go; and they may make much of their jury." We went away. The matter was immediately reported to the Judges, then sitting in the Queen's Bench; and Judge Perrin (the same who had been so scandalized at the packing of juries before), instantly ordered the officer to send for me, and count and compare the cards before me, though it should occupy all night. This was accordingly done. If there had been any villany practised in the Sheriffs office, it had been rectified in the meantime. The two juries were struck; and it was instantly evident that on each of them would be men who would never convict me of any offence whatever against a foreign sovereign. The juries, in fact, were more favourable than those which had failed to do the Queen's business in the cases of O'Brien and Meagher; inasmuch as it was sure there would be two or three on each who desired the independence of their country. The enemy dared not go to trial with me before these juries. But what to do? Every week was heightening the spirit of the people, and increasing the number of pikes and rifles in the hands of the peasantry. The United Irishman had also forced the Nation to adopt the insurrectionary policy, and to publish plain instructions on pike-exercise, and the like,—or else go unread. Lord Clarendon was impatient; Birch, doubtless, was alarmed for "Law and Order;" and Monahan trembled for his due promotion. So they cut the matter short.

The scene at the Crown Office was on the 12th of May. The next day the "Government" abandoned the two prosecutions for sedition; and, about five o'clock in the evening, certain members of the detective police beset my house;—one of them entered and arrested me on a charge of Felony under the new Act. There was no difficulty in finding overt acts; for every week's United Irishman contained as much of that saving ...continue reading »

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Page 172

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel