Jury-Packing - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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

peasantry were by this time so dispirited, so feeble, and so poor, that no such movement could have been attempted through their means. The priests were signalizing their royalty by calming down all indignant feeling, and heartily abusing the defeated rebels: the middle classes were frightened and corrupted;—and the Conquest was consummated.

There remained for the enemy now only to confirm that conquest, and then to make a profitable use of it for England. First, the editors must be brought to trial under the new "Treason-Felony" Act; and O'Brien and his immediate comrades, under the Common Law, for the crime of "High Treason," having appeared in arms against the "government." Our enemies would gladly have dispensed with these trials, and removed their captives out of the way by a more summary process. But they were not to forget that they were a "liberal" government, and had a reputation to support before the world. Ireland was not Naples, (would to God she had been)! and political offenders could by no means be suffered to perish by long confinement, in subterranean dungeons, without trial. But then arose the question of juries; and the "government" knew full well that no jury in Ireland impartially empanelled according to law, and really representing the nation, would convict one of those men for any offence whatever against a foreign government.

They could not refuse a trial; but one thing they could do, which the King of Naples had never learned,—they could pack the juries. No doubt, it was painful to have to pack juries again: how could Whig reputation endure it? But they hoped this would be the last time. They knew that in the eyes of Englishmen, the extreme urgency of the occasion would justify this one last tremendous fraud; and, like Ulysses, they could be honest afterwards. When I say, "in the eyes of Englishmen," I mean the ruling classes of Englishmen, namely, the landed interests and the monied and mercantile interests;—I mean, in short, those Englishmen whose opinions and interests are alone consulted in the government of that country. To them it was an absolute necessity of their existence that Irish national movements should be crushed down by any means and all means—but it would be unjust to charge the mass of Englishmen with approving of the system of British Government in Ireland. Most of them know nothing about it. Those people of the industrious classes, who do interest themselves somewhat in public affairs—that is, the Chartists—were utterly powerless, and were held in the profoundest contempt by those who own them, and own their industry and their lives. In truth, of the three peoples whom our enemies pretend to govern, ...continue reading »

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

Page 203