The Verdict against O'Connell - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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to Fitzgibbon, in open court, a pencilled note, requiring that gentleman to name a friend and meet him next morning in mortal combat. Fitzgibbon read the note to the Judges; and they mildly rebuked the rancorous little public prosecutor. Day after day passed, and week after week;—O'Connell and the traversers all the time attending public festivals and Repeal meetings, and organizing the Repeal Wardens in a more compact and steady power. All the world soon perceived that the cause of the country in no way depended on what was passing in the Queen's Bench; and the trials would have been absolutely devoid of interest, but for the brilliant speeches of Shiel, Whiteside, and MacDonagh, and the occasional jokes which enlivened the galleries and awaked the Judges.

Early in February the trials ended: and when the Chief Justice, in his charge to the jury, argued the case like one of the counsel for the prosecution, and so far forgot himself as to term the traversers' counsel "the gentlemen on the other side," there was more laughter than indignation throughout the country. The jury brought in their verdict of GUILTY,—of course. O'Connell addressed a letter to the People of Ireland, informing them that "the Repeal" was now sure; that all he wanted was peace, patience, and perseverance; and that if they would only "keep the peace for six, or, at most, for twelve months more," he would promise Repeal. Having published this letter, he went straight to London, and strode into Parliament, where he was received with a tumult of acclamation by the Whigs, then out of place, who saw in his whole movement nothing more than a machinery to raise them to power. It was while they were engaged in a debate on the state of Ireland, that O'Connell stalked into the House. He had got somewhat to say on the state of Ireland. But before going farther, take two extracts from the speeches of Lord John Russell and of Mr Macaulay, in that debate,—both of them, being then out of place, zealous for "Justice to Ireland," and highly indignant at the packing of juries. Said Lord John Russell:—

"Nominally, indeed, the two countries have the same laws. Trial by jury, for instance, exists in both countries; but is it administered alike in both countries? Sir, I remember on one occasion when an honourable gentleman, Mr Brougham, on bringing forward a motion, in 1823, on the administration of the law in Ireland, made use of these words:—'The law of England esteemed all men equal. It was sufficient to he born within the King's allegiance, to be entitled to all the rights the loftiest subject of the land enjoyed. None were disqualified, and the only distinction was between natural-born subjects and aliens. Such, indeed, was the liberality of our system in times which we called ...continue reading »

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