Justin McCarthy
Chapter XI | Start of Chapter

The Irish national movement soon broke its constitutional bounds. John Mitchel gave up his connection with the Nation and started a weekly journal of his own, United Irishman, in which he advocated a movement for the absolute independence of Ireland. The Revolution which overthrew Louis Philippe broke out, and France became, for the second time, a Republic. Several of the Young Irelanders undertook a mission to France for the purpose of obtaining from the Republican Government help in Ireland's effort for independence. John Mitchel was put on his trial in Dublin because of articles which had appeared in his paper. He was charged with treason-felony, a new offence created by special legislation. Up to that time spoken or written sedition, when no act of rebellion or attack on the life of the Sovereign had been committed, could only be visited with a comparatively light punishment; but the new statute made such sedition felonious and liable to very severe penalties. Mitchel was found guilty, and made no attempt whatever to evade the action of the law. He was defended by Robert Holmes, a great Irish advocate, brother-in-law of Robert Emmet, whose speech on behalf of his client proclaimed his full sympathy with the sentiments for which Mitchel stood on his trial. After the verdict of guilty had been pronounced Mitchel made a short speech from the dock, declaring his absolute adhesion to the principles for which he was arraigned. He was sentenced to transportation for fourteen years, and carried off at once to Bermuda and afterwards to Australia.