The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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was a good enough jury; some of the counts in the indictment might be bad; but, bad or good, the judgment of the Irish court was to stand; and O'Connell was to remain in prison.

Lord Denman, Chief Justice of England, then arose. I have already mentioned that the whole Irish question was regarded in the British Parliament solely with reference to its affording a chance for turning out the Tory ministry, and conducting the Whigs into power and place. We have seen, accordingly, the virtuous indignation of Lord John Russell, and of Mr Macaulay, against the packing of the juries. It seems an atrocious charge to make upon Judges and law-lords—that they could be influenced by any other considerations than the plain law and justice of the case. But the mere matter of fact is, that the majority of the English Judges were of the Tory party. Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst was a violent Tory, and moreover, an avowed enemy to Ireland. Lord Brougham was at that time a Tory, and also a personal foe to O'Connell, having been often stung by the vicious taunts and ridicule of that gentleman. But Lord Denman, Lord Cottenham, and Lord Campbell were Whigs; and Denman, Cottenham, and Campbell gave it as their opinion that the jury had been unfair and fraudulent—that no fair trial had taken place—and therefore that the judgment against the Repeal Conspirators should be reversed.

Some circumstances attending this transaction deserve to be stated. After the delivery of the opinions of the law-lords, the Chancellor put the question, "Is it your lordships' pleasure that the judgment be reversed?"—and several lay-lords, who knew no more of law than of anything else, shouted in chorus to Lord Brougham, "Not Content." This was too much: Lord Wharncliffe, President of the Council, himself rebuked the indecency; and even Lord Brougham declared that it was better not to go out of the usual course, even for the sake of doing justice in so important a case, as it would diminish the respect and confidence of mankind towards that most illustrious tribunal. The noisy lay-lords, therefore, took their hats and went out; and the votes only of the law-lords were taken. Lyndhurst and Brougham were for sustaining the judgment; and three others against it. The Chancellor, therefore, announced—"the judgment is reversed."

The State Trials, then, were at an end. It has been beside my present purpose to detail the complicated incidents of that procedure—the motion for a new trial, motion for amendment in the postea, and so forth—which served to protract the affair ...continue reading »

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Page 57

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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