Verdict on Meagher and O'Brien - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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This objection was also overruled; Chief-Justice Blackburne having decided that the panel was properly made out."

O'Brien, whose mind was made up to meet any fate, stood in the dock during this nine days' trial, with a haughty calmness. What thoughts passed through that proud heart, as the odious game proceeded, no human eye will ever read: but of one thing I am sure,—his grief, shame, and indignation were not for himself, but for the down-trodden country, where such a scene could be enacted in the open day and against the will of nine-tenths of its inhabitants.

There was a verdict of guilty: and O'Brien slightly bowed to the Jury. He was re-conducted to his prison, where he met Meagher, who eagerly sought to read the result in his face. But nothing is to be read there: it wears the same steady, cheerful smile as ever,—so cheerful that Meagher hopes for a moment that he brings good news. O'Brien presses his hand, merely saying, "Guilty, Meagher—guilty! as we all are, of not having sold our country." The next morning he stands before the Judge; is asked if he has anything to say why sentence should not pass; replies that he has nothing to say, save that his conscience is clear; that he has done only what was the duty of every Irishman; "and now," he adds, "proceed with your sentence."

Chief Justice Blackburne puts on his black cap, which becomes him well. I give the precise words of the sentence:—

"That sentence is, that you, William Smith O'Brien, be taken from hence to the place from whence you came, and be thence drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, and be there hanged by the neck until you are dead; and that afterwards your head shall be severed from your body, and your body divided into four quarters, to be disposed of as her Majesty shall think fit. And may the Lord have mercy on your soul."

O'Brien hears it unmoved as a statue: again inclines his head in a stately bow; politely takes leave of his counsel, and returns to his prison.

Again, and again, and again, the same process was performed in all its parts. MacManus was next tried, then O'Donohoe, then Meagher: their juries were all carefully packed; they were all sentenced to be hanged; and they all met the announcement of their fate as men ought. For more than a month these trials went on, from day to day; and it was the 23d of October when the last sentence was pronounced. A strong garrison of cavalry, infantry, and artillery occupied the town, and enclosed the scene with a hedge of steel. Outside, the people muttered deep curses, and chafed with impotent rage. A few daring spirits, headed by ...continue reading »

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