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

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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month after month. Proof of the "overt acts," also, has been omitted, as being of no consequence at the time, nor at any time since. The thing was indeed no criminal trial at all;—it was a de facto government making use of its courts of justice and officials, of its executive power, to try and convict a whole people for the crime of demanding their independence. Thus considered, it was deemed by all high-spirited Irishmen as an outrage and public affront before the world; and the reversal of the judgment by Whig law-lords in London, and consequent liberation of the prisoners, was by no means regarded as atoning the outrage or wiping out the insult. We tried hard, indeed, to feel triumphant: it needed no trouble to feel indignant and humiliated. The Nation exclaims:—

"What—what—what! is the decision of the Queen's Bench of Ireland reversed? So they have kept us for three months from our freedom without law, or right, or justice? Out upon their Constitution!

"And was the Trial by Jury made a 'mockery, a delusion, and a snare,' for this opening of the prison-gates? Were the names omitted, the list fraudulent, and did all the attendant circumstances of a Government conspiracy take place only that the unwilling hands which closed the doors of Richmond prison should open them to-day?

"And so the 'convicted conspirators,' the ' hoary criminal,' and his 'suffering dupes,' were robbed of their liberty by the Government of England! With hot, indecent haste—with furious hurry—they drove them from the Court-house to the gaol. The men who stood convicted appealed to a higher, and, as it appears, a luckier court, from the inferior tribunal; yet, contrary to all the dictates of true justice, they were forced to endure the punishment without their crime being proved. The Government were warned not to inflict this wrong. They were warned to abide the issue of the appeal—to stay their vengeance—to balk their appetite for punishment. Yet that sleek tyrant at their head would not have it so. He would have O'Connell in the prison. He would wreak malignant vengeance on his 'difficulty;'—he did so. He inflicted three months' false imprisonment."

Yes, it was true; the "sleek tyrant" had done it; and we might make the most and say our worst of it. He had shown that he dared inflict three months' false imprisonment:—and the very appeal to a British House of Lords, from an Irish law Court, was felt to be degradation, because it was an attornment to the jurisdiction of the enemy.

Before quitting the subject, one or two matters deserve commemoration. The British Government, by openly and ostentatiously striking off from the jury panel all Catholics without exception, and all Protestants of moderate and liberal opinions, made proclamation that they knew the great mass of the people to be averse to them and their rule—avowed that they accounted ...continue reading »

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