The Chartists in England - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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they fear none but the Irish. The government, accordingly, gave the Chartists a significant hint, immediately after my "trial," that they were to mind their own business, and leave the settlement of Irish affairs to their betters. A large Chartist meeting was held in London, and indignant speeches were made, protesting against the packing of the "jury." Amongst others, Mr Ernest Jones had said (and the detective police had taken down his words), that the people would triumph yet,—that a day would come when John Mitchel would return in triumph to his country, and Lord John Russell and Lord Clarendon would be transported in his place! He was immediately brought to trial, convicted for sedition, and expiated his rash words by two years in a dungeon.

The Whig Government, in short, felt that if they satisfied the men of rank and money in England, they did the whole duty of Whigs: and the men of rank and money were eagerly crying out to have the last embers of that long national struggle stamped out.

O'Brien, Meagher, MacManus, and O'Donoghue were to have their trial before a special commission in Clonmel, the capital of Tipperary. On the details of these trials I need not dwell; because they were on the same pattern with other scenes of this same kind which I have narrated. The officials of the Crown showed a stern, dogged determination to disregard every remonstrance, to refuse every application, and to do the work intrusted to them in the most coarse, insolent, and thorough-going style. For example, Mr Whiteside, O'Brien's counsel, reminded the court "that, in England, persons charged with high treason are allowed a copy of the Jurors' panel, and a list of the witnesses to be examined on the part of the Crown." Take one extract from the report of the "trial:"—

"The learned counsel put it to the court whether Mr O'Brien, under trial in a country said to be under the same government and laws as England, should not have the same privilege which he would enjoy as a matter of right, if he happened to be tried on the other side of the Channel.

"The Court decided that the prisoner was not entitled to the privilege."

When the clerk read the names of the jury-panel, Mr O'Brien of course challenged the array, on the ground of fraud; and, of course, the Court ruled against him.

"Mr Whiteside stated that it made little difference whether his client would be tried by a jury selected from a panel thus constituted, or taken and shot through the head on the high-road. No less than one hundred Catholics had been struck off the panel, and so few left on, that Mr O'Brien's right to challenge was no little better than a farce. ...continue reading »

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