Whig Law-Lords - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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that small remainder, out of whom they selected their jurors, to be the only "good and lawful men." This, to be sure, amounted to an admission that nine-tenths of Irishmen desired the freedom of their country; but then it also amounted to a declaration that England meant to hold the country, whether Irishmen would or not.

One other noteworthy matter: after the verdict, but before the sentence, it was well known that the traversers would bring the whole matter up to the House of Lords by Writ of Error; but it was also known that Ministers would insist upon imprisonment, pending the Writ of Error, and that the Judges would refuse all bail; for the sole policy of "government" seemed to be that O'Connell must see the inside of a gaol, guilty or not guilty, law or no law. Accordingly it was conceived by certain Whig statesmen in London (then out of place, as aforesaid, and eager to "make capital" by their friendship for Ireland), that a bill might be introduced into Parliament, authorizing bail to be received in criminal cases, pending a Writ of Error, in order that persons might not suffer imprisonment as criminals, who might turn out to be innocent. Lord Campbell introduced the bill. On the second of May, he moved that it should be referred to a committee. Lord Lyndhurst, the Chancellor, opposed it on the part of the government. He said not a word against the fairness and justice of the measure; but boldly founded his opposition on the ground that it was brought in to answer a particular case. Lord Brougham, of course, opposed it too; and was so foolish as to say that—

"Though approving of the general principles of the measure, he had at the first stated that it was most objectionable to introduce a measure so important, pending the proceedings now going on in Dublin."

Lord Clanricarde observed that the opposition of their Lordships to the measure amounted to this—that if it were passed, they might be unable wrongly to imprison six or seven gentlemen then in Dublin. Without so much as a division, the motion was negatived; and, on the 30th of the same month of May, O'Connell and his friends were carried to prison.

It was easy to expose and denounce all these proceedings; and they were triumphantly denounced in prose and verse. But the more thoroughly they were exposed and dwelt upon, and the more ostentatious and audacious they were, just the more stinging and deadly was the insult to our people. It was a kind and amount of outrage which, if any people endure without battle, virtue has gone out of them. Under that ...continue reading »

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