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The prosecution followed. The offence imputed was not one which had been recently committed, and which all reasonable men would have united in condemning. It comprehended all those acts which, during successive months, had been tolerated, and almost justified by the acquiescence of the government. A more perfect case of condonation could not be easily figured. Indictments of unexampled length and complexity were framed, including at once popular leaders, popular writers, popular priests, and editors of popular journals. Well might the Lord Chief-Justice of England ask indignantly, What mind could comprehend indictments, technically framed, and consisting of fifty-eight sheets of paper?' The offence charged was not that of seditious words, or seditious meetings, but the offence of a conspiracy proved on evidence, which, if admitted, brought into jeopardy every principle of civil liberty. Newspapers, which it does not appear that the accused had ever written, ever sanctioned, or ever read, were relied upon as evidence; not only against their printers and publishers, but against parties not proved to be cognisant of their contents. Acts done by one man, speeches delivered anterior to any connexion with the other traversers, were referred to in proof of guilty participation and knowledge. This alarming doctrine was, however, among the least astounding of these proceedings. The law of Ireland had been lately amended, for the purpose of ensuring more impartiality and fairness in the selection of juries. This act had been carefully considered, and was framed for the correction of abuses long known and loudly complained of. It was a popular and a remedial statute. The most flagrant of all the evils which the new jury act was intended to correct, was the partial nomination of juries. In Ireland, partiality always connects itself, in opinion and in practice, with religious distinctions; and to ensure the fair and indiscriminate appointment of qualified persons, whether Roman Catholics or Protestants, to serve on juries, was a main object of the new jury act. With the case of Mr O'Connell and his associates, religious differences and animosities were inseparably bound up. The law provided that, to secure the due administration of justice, the jury should be impartially chosen from a list, including all qualified Protestants and Catholics. This was a condition assumed by law to be indispensable to a fair trial. Yet by an unfortunate error, called by some a mere mistake, by others a proceeding liable to grave suspicion,' the names of many Roman Catholic jurors were excluded from the Sheriff's lists; and when the time for reducing the number of jurors subsequently arrived, the officers of the crown-by a most unwise and dangerous exercise of what we admit was their legal right-excluded from the Panel all but the Protestant jurors. The propriety of these proceedings was questioned. Oa
proof of the mutilation of the jury list, the array was challenged. The challenge was not allowed. 'I am of opinion,' fearlessly and wisely states the Lord Chief-Justice of England, that the challenge ought to have been allowed, or the trial by jury 'would become a mockery. If complaint is made against a jury list, it would be better if no trial should take place until the objections have been satisfactorily settled.' But the trial proceeded. We pass over the intermediate parts of the drama; we overlook the episode of the Challenge sent by the Attorneygeneral to an opposing Counsel, and appropriately entrusted to a peace-officer; we pass over the memorable Charge of the Chief-justice of Ireland, in which he designated the Counsel for the accused as 'the gentlemen on the other side;' and pass onward to the result a verdict of guilty-a sentence of fine and imprisonment carried into immediate effect, and pending the appeal to a superior court. This injustice, however, we cannot charge upon the Irish judges, but upon the Law of the Land, which, while it makes a provision for the security of property till the judgment of a court of error is pronounced, neglects to afford any such remedy where the liberty of the subject is concerned.
Whatever the moral effect of these proceedings might have been, the government prosecution seemed thus far to be crowned with success. The Attorney-General was triumphant. The Law, it was said, was vindicated., It was most respectfully obeyed: no offensive or insulting proceeding, no act of violence followed. But we pause to ask, at what expense, admitting the success of the prosecution to have been complete, was it procured?-at what sacrifice of principle?-at what risk of consequences? During the administration of the Whigs, two inestimable blessings had extended their salutary influence in Ireland. An increasing feeling of confidence in the fair administration of justice; and a settled conviction that religious differences were not recognised by the law of the land. These two principles were grievously shaken by the mode of conducting the State trials. The law provided for the selection of an impartial jury; the law distinctly prescribed the mode in which that impartiality was to be secured. By accident, or by design, the very provisions of the statute, enacted to ensure this impartiality, were neglected, or were violated. Thus the accused were deprived of the protection of the law. Bad as this must appear if the object had been to produce a jury of one particular political party, it became infinitely worse, because more insulting, when its effect was the selection of a jury exclusively Protestant. A new religious disqualification was seemingly imposed; the spirit of the Emancipation Act was violated. principle was thus laid down, which suggested the inferiority or
the unworthiness of Roman Catholic judges, of Roman Catholic magistrates, and of Roman Catholic public officers, from the highest to the lowest. We have no hesitation in thinking, that the conviction of all the Repealers in Ireland, would have been but a miserable compensation for a permanent stain thus cast upon the integrity of judicial proceedings. Every Roman Catholic felt the blow, the most moderate as well as the most eager. The Talbots, Howards, Hastings', and Stourtons, in England; and in Ireland, Lord Kenmure and the whole Roman Catholic Hierarchy came forward to protest against this grievous wrong. For the sake of the character of the House of Commons, we rejoice that Lord John Russell, with his characteristic love of liberty and justice, and Sir Thomas Wylde, with all the weight of his high legal knowledge, unhesitatingly expressed their conviction, that the accused had not the benefit of a fair trial.'
The perpetrators of injustice were here doomed to suffer for their misdeeds. The judgment against Mr O'Connell and his associates has been reversed by the House of Lords; though, it is true, not without a difference of opinion entitled to respect. The accused have obtained their discharge; though after having suffered a long imprisonment, for which the law provides no remedy whatever-a flagrant injustice, calling for immediate correction on the part of the legislature.
There are other and very peculiar circumstances connected with this memorable decision, which greatly increase its practical importance. By a singular coincidence, two writs of error from Ireland were decided on the same day. A leading Orangeman of the name of Samuel Gray, had been convicted of a violent outrage. A point of law was raised in his favour, respecting his right of peremptory challenge. Three of the Irish judges decided against the prisoner, one only (Mr Justice Perrin) decided in his favour. Attacks made, with equal acrimony and injustice, against that eminent and liberal judge, induce us to remark that his opinion was pronounced in favour of the Orange agitator. In this case, the decision of the House of Lords reversed the judgment of the Irish Queen's Bench-adopted the opinion of Mr Justice Perrin, and relieved Samuel Gray from a sentence of transportation. If, on the very same day, the very same tribunal had, in the case of Mr O'Connell, affirmed the finding of a jury partially constituted, giving effect to an indictment admitted to be bad in two of its multiplied counts, and to findings declared to be illegal in three cases, we doubt whether any people upon earth, even were they as calm and reasonable as the Irish are excitable, could have reconciled the justice of twe such apparently conflicting decisions. From such a danger we are relieved by the judgment which has been pronounced.
We cannot but anticipate from this judgment another incidental benefit of inestimable value. It appears to us to have dealt a heavier blow against the Repeal agitation than could have been struck in any other possible way. The judgment pronounced against the popular leaders was that of the highest criminal court in Ireland-that judgment is reversed by the House of Lords at Westminster. The prosecution was one carried on with the whole strength of the government. In Parliament, the weight of a Tory cabinet and of a Tory majoritypower and influence apparently irresistible seemed to be cast into the scale. Even the earnest feelings of the British people, justly exasperated by the delusions and falsehoods by which the Repeal cry had been supported, and outraged by the imputations east upon them, of supposed indifference to the happiness of their Irish fellow-countrymen, seemed to check and restrain, though they could not extinguish, the sympathy felt for the accused. Yet the House of Lords, in a judgment in which no native of Ireland had any part, interposed its supreme authority in redress of an Irish wrong; and restored to their homes and to their families, the men against whom an erroneous judgment had been pronounced. This affords the most triumphant answer that can be given to those who endeavour to persuade the Irish, that justice to Ireland is unattainable from Britain. This lesson, we trust, and indeed we believe confidently, will not be lost; and if this mischievous and delusive cry is again raised, we cannot but think that the liberation of Mr O'Connell, not by the favour of the crown, not by the recommendation of the ministry, but by the force of law, and the decision of the highest court of appeal, will give to that cry its most effectual and conclusive refutation.
We should, however, act unjustly, if we were to omit to mention the highly commendable conduct of the government on some other Irish questions. Towards the end of the session a 'change seems to have come over the spirit of their dream.' A pledge has been given by Sir Robert Peel, that the College of Maynooth, and the Education of the Roman Catholics, shall occupy the immediate attention of the government, and be brought before Parliament in the next session. Since the passing of the Emancipation Act, no measure of such practical importance for Ireland has been undertaken. The credit to which Sir Robert Peel is fully entitled, is greatly increased by reason of the ignorance and violent prejudices of some of his supporters. This he cannot but know; but his resolution is taken, and his declaration made. We trust that his conduct will not only be justly appreciated by the Roman Catholic clergy and laity, but that all honest men will second his efforts. Above all, we hope, and
fully anticipate, that his plan may be found both enlarged and liberal. He will have to encounter the same hostility, whether the improvements he proposes are great or insignificant. That hostility he has made up his mind to encounter; and he will overcome it. The Roman Catholic Hierarchy will bear in mind, that this is a step which even the most decided friends to Ireland have not ventured to take since 1807. They will bear in mind that it is taken at much personal and political risk; and we trust that their wisdom, as well as their generosity, will meet it in a becoming spirit. To this the government seem to us entitled, not only for their declaration respecting Maynooth, but for their enlightened and liberal conduct respecting Roman Catholic Churches and Endowments. Abolishing a most narrow, bigoted, and sectarian institution-one of the many bad legacies bequeathed to Ireland by her own legislature-the government have established a reformed Commission for the superintendence of all charitable bequests and endowments-of which Roman Catholic ecclesiastics and laymen will form an integral part; to which a Roman Catholic as well as a Protestant secretary will be appointed; and in which all questions involving Roman Catholic doctrines and discipline will be submitted to the Roman Catholic commissioners only. When, in addition to this, we remember that the Roman Catholic Hierarchy of Ireland are expressly named and recognised in this excellent statute; that the provision of glebes for the parochial clergy, and the granting of sites for places of Roman Catholic worship, are all encouraged and facilitated, we must say that much has been done, and that more may be anticipated, leading to conciliation and peace. The bold and generous tone adopted in both Houses by members of the cabinet, more especially by Lord Lyndhurst, in advocating the repeal of those disgraceful statutes which subjected Roman Catholics to frightful penalties for maintaining the most essential tenets of their faith; for attending divine worship according to their own ceremonial; and even for taking their children for instruction to the Continent-sufficiently prove a desire to carry out the principles of religious freedom. It was in vain that a leading Prelate grounded most intolerant arguments upon the most singular mistakes of law and of fact. The government stood firmly to their principle; and they were rewarded not only by success, but by the respect and gratitude of all the friends of religious freedom. In the same spirit, and with the same manly determination, was the difficult question of Presbyterian marriages in Ireland disposed of;-frustrating the impolitic and intolerant attempt made on behalf of the Established Church, to affix a mark of inferiority on the Presbyterian clergy;-to overturn the invariable usage of more than a century, and this at the hazard