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made to sustain an opposite case, or to afford any colour of justification to the atrocious insinuation in the letter by which the Irish gentry were so foully stigmatized, and which, if it were true, would have marked them as worthy of extirpation. It appears, then, that they stand clear of this charge; that the author of it did not even attempt to produce a shadow of justification for having preferred it. And what follows? That he stands himself chargeable with having had recourse to false pretences, for the purpose of excusing his abandonment of his bounden duty; that duty being, the more vigorous enforcement of the law, for the purpose of arresting the progress of a system of noon-day assassination; and those pretences being, a slanderous vilification of the noblemen and gentlemen whom the unpunished assassins had marked out for vengeance! They call upon him to protect their lives, and he answers them by murdering their characters; and that, for the purpose of leaving them as completely bereft of moral respectability, as they were destitute of legal protection or redress; of outlawing them in public opinion; while the wretches who rule the country with a rod of iron, defying equally the laws of God and of man, are regarded with sympathy and commiseration! Thus it was that Lord Normanby governed Ireland! Is it any wonder that he should be idolized by the lawless and the profligate? Is it any wonder that O'Connell and his myrmidons should have rejoiced under his tutelary protection? Is it any wonder that he should have been loathed and scorned by men of a different stamp, who could not easily accommodate themselves to this newly-invented mode of administering justice? And how can we sufficiently admire the
wisdom and the virtue of the reformed house of commons, (we pray the constituencies to mark this well,) who declared, that such a mode of conducting the government of the country was entitled to their warmest approbation, and that any deviation from it was to be deprecated as a calamity which might seriously endanger the security of the empire?
Well-such has been the verdict of his peers upon the first count in the indictment. What was the second, and what did the inquiry prove? We shall see. Our readers will remember the frequency and the earnestness with which the attention of the government
at various times was called to that system of treason denominated the Ribbon conspiracy, which had spread itself over the whole surface of the country, and engaged almost the entire of the rustic population. This conspiracy was represented as exclusively Roman Catholic, and their objects were variously described-as, the separation of this country from Great Britain; the extirpation of Protestantism; the wresting of the forfeited estates from their present proprietors; the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic religion ;-but whatever the ultimate design of the contrivers might be, it is obvious that the conspiracy was calculated, amongst an ignorant and mercurial people, to poison the fountains of their allegiance, to keep alive amongst them sectarian and political rancour, to encourage dim and visionary hopes of national regeneration and independence, which, among a fondly national and imaginative people, were not the less stimulating because they were vague and driftless, and shrouded in mystery;-and thus to generate what may be called a shapeless mass of elemental treason, which floated like a firedamp through the subterranean regions of society, and only awaited the first spark, to make its destructive energies terribly apparent, in a wide-spread and almost universal ruin. What did Lord Normanby say to this? He laughed at it-he derided it-he denied that any such conspiracy had any existence. Let us now hear the witnesses. Major George Warburton, an active magistrate, connected with the constabulary for two-and-twenty years, deposes to the existence of the Ribbon conspiracy in Sligo, Westmeath, Meath, Armagh, Dublin, Galway, Wicklow, and Tipperary :
"He thinks, from the general arrangement, and the great ability with which he considers it is conducted, it must have some able and directing head; but neither the place where that head is, nor the persons actually directing, have yet been discovered by any authority, although it is undoubtedly general, as far as he can collect, and increasing of late years."
of supporting each other; and that persons who have suffered from outrages will not give an account of them, from the apprehension of the consequences of doing 80. In a subsequent part of his evidence he further states, that Ribbonism is a system that is convertible for any objects which may arise; that the people are kept in a state of organization without defining objects to them, but merely keeping them in such a state that if any occurrence took place where a popular demonstration was desirable, they could be collected immediately, from the orgauization, to make a show upon that occasion; that all the instructions or regulations tend to the object of disaffection generally; and that the system is more political than agrarian.””
Hill Wilson Rowan, also a stipendiary magistrate, in which capacity he has acted in Clare, Galway, Waterford, Tipperary, Kilkenny, and Westmeath, swears
"That he feels himself competent to give information upon the ribbon conspiracy, which information has been derived chiefly from Ribbonmen themselves at different times and places; and that he has not the slightest doubt of the accuracy of that information, it having been given partly upon oath and partly by parole, all the individuals having expressed their willingness to swear to their statements, provided their names were not disclosed; that all the information he has received is to the effect that the Ribbon societies are governed by a central society, or what they call the Chief Ribbon Board, supposed to be in
"They regulate," he says, "all kind of local concerns as they please; that the system appears to have been increasing very much of late years, but that he has not known any thing specific upon the subject till about a year and a half ago, and that chiefly in the county of Westmeath; in other counties he has known a great deal of crime that appeared to be conducted or managed by secret societies, but that he has not been aware until lately of the precise causes or modes of operation.' This mode Mr. Rowan proceeds to detail, (his testimony having been received by him from members of the ribbon conspiracy, of whose veracity he has no doubt,) that the objects of the principal board appear to be chiefly connected with increasing the numbers of the society in all parts of the kingdom, there being branches of it in England and Scotland;' that in Ireland the central board originate the passwords and
signs and tokens by which they are known to each other, and also the oaths or vows by which they are bound to each other; they communicate those passwords and signs to the different branches of the country, through persons confidential and members of the society, who assemble in Dublin from time to time to receive those communications; they are transmitted to delegates called county delegates, thence to baronial delegates, and they communicate them to the parochial delegates or committee, there being a parish master in each committee who writes them out for the different members of the parochial society respectively.' In reply to the question whether he can trace the crimes affecting life and property in Ireland to the direct orders of any society?' Mr. Rowan answers that he can; that is to say, that he has known crimes perpetrated and outrages committed, respecting the origin of which he should have been in the dark if members of the society had not communicated to him the fact, that it was by members of that society they were committed.' He also states, in reply to several questions, that he first became acquainted with the particulars respecting this society when examining an individual upon another subject, whom he ascertained to be a ribbonman, who expected a reward for his information; that his information has been corroborated by others of the same description, to the number of seven eight, in no degree connected with the first; and although they were not aware of what each or any of the others had said, the informations corroborated each other, and there could have been no collusion, as they belonged to and were examined in different counties. He states they all appear to have had great fear of the fact of their giving information being divulged; that no temptation would induce them to give it if they thought it would be so; and they make a special condition that the names of the parties shall be perfectly confidential, unless revealed by their own consent. Mr. Rowan then states that he has seen the passwords of the society, which are changed quarterly; and if there be reason to apprehend that they have been disclosed or betrayed by any member, a communication is made to the principal board, from the district in which the apprehension arises, and the board is assembled to authorise the changing of the words;' that he has reason to believe that the passwords in one district are sufficient to ensure a safe passage throughout all the counties the members may visit. He then details the manner in which outrages are planned and committed under the local
authorities of the district: An individual from the locality where an outrage is to take place, goes to the committee or parish master of a district some eight or ten or twelve miles distant. The first eight or ten men who are for duty in that district return with him to the spot indicated by him; he points, out the individuals and keeps himself in the background while the others execute his purposes.' He says that although the names and places of residence of the perpetrators of these outrages have been given him in some cases by members of the society, few persons have been apprehended, and for this reason: • Persons committed or held to bail are now entitled to a copy of the information against them, and the almost invariable result would be death to the informant before the time of trial, or he would be bought off and sent out of the kingdom by a subscription. Independently of the fear of being murdered, there is also an abhorrence of being called informers. The first individual who communicated with him respecting ribbonism told him, when he offered him his own terms to come forward, that the Lord Lieutenant's wealth would not tempt him to do so, for there was not a branch of his family that would not suffer by it.
"He has never had any information of any individual of rank, property, or extensive influence being connected with the ribbon society directly; but he has had it inferred or insinuated by several of the informants, that the chief design is to accumulate as large a body as possible throughout the kingdom, with a conviction that after having such force organised, they will find it very easy to procure leaders such as may suit their purposes and effect their objects; which objects are unequivocally stated by the oath he had seen, and corroboration of every Ribbonman he has examined, to be subverting the Protestant religion, and establishing the Catholic religion in its stead, the greatest pains being taken, previously to the admission of a member, to ascertain whether he has any near relative or connexion of the Protestant faith, lest through him they might be betrayed; to overturn the British government in Ireland, to recover the forfeited estates, and, when strong enough, to establish an independent monarchy in Ireland under a Catholic king. There are minor objects, having reference to a competition for land and the regulation of property;' aud one part of their oath is to bind them to obey their leader at two hours' notice, without any reference as to what his command may be, and that under the penalty of death.' Mr.
Rowan states that he has no doubt that this society exerts itself at a general election, and that the statement of one individual Ribbonman to him was, that they were resolved to have the county of in that state of organization that they would be able to chair a cabbage-stalk if they should think fit. He then proceeds to give instances of persons being injured or threatened with injury to their lives and properties, for reasons connected with the tenure of land, which he has been informed of subsequently by ribbonmen; and he says that he has not the slightest doubt that life and property are more insecure in counties where this society exists than in others. When asked as to the existence of faction fights, and whether the ribbon society have endeavoured to prevent them, his answer is, that the object of the ribbon society is to allay the feelings which create the various factions, to absorb them into one body, and make it one association throughout Ireland, instead of fighting with each other in the way they have hitherto done; which confederacy they call the Religious Liberty System.' He further states that he has been informed by Roman Catholic constables that Ribbonism had been denounced by the priests in the chapels, but that ribbonmen have told him that that is considered superficial denunciation; that the Roman Catholic priests have a particular object in keeping the country tranquil, at least on the surface; but that when they wish to obtain votes at elections in favour of a particular candidate, they apply to individuals whom they know to have influence with the class of which Ribbonmen are composed.' In reply to inquiries why Ribbonmen did not attend to the injunctions of their priests, and abandon those societies, he states that Ribbonmen have answered, Because we do not believe the priests are sincere in their denunciation. It is also stated by Mr. Rowan, that there is a great anxiety to procure arms in that society, as many fire-arms as possible; that large quantities are sent into the country from Dublin, and at particular meetings each individual is bound to subscribe, for the purpose of procuring arms and ammunition, to a special fund allocated to that purpose.' In a subsequent part of his evidence, Mr. Rowan says, that a statement has been made to him, that they have no doubt that when the time comes they will be strong enough to effect their objects, they will get an abundant supply of arms from America; and that all the recent passwords have reference to the Canadian rebellion, or to the prospect of an embroilment with America.'
Upon the subject of the increase of ribbonism, he says, that it has increased lately to a very alarming extent, and that he should say, that within a year and a half, in the counties of which he knows any thing, it has doubled itself;' and he afterwards adds, that it is stated to him to prevail to some extent wherever there is a Roman Catholic population;' and again, that a good many among the persons recently introduced, within six or eight months, into the police, are ribbonmen.' Mr. Rowan also states, that he has received every assistance from the local authorities for the prosecution of his inquiries by order of the government, and from the government itself, and money has been placed in the hands of certain parties at his disposal.' Being asked, whether he has not heard much from in. formants which he himself has deemed improbable and ludicrous, he answers, I have not. I think that an organization so rude, and yet so efficient for its purposes, carries upon its face something ridiculous; but I know, from its effects, that it is extremely serious;' and he adds, I cannot say, with respect to all the details of all the circumstances that have fallen under my knowledge, that there is no part of it which appears improbable; but I can state, with perfect confidence, that the general statements made to me appear to be completely borne out by the circumstances of the country, and the corroboration which each witness has given to another, totally unconnected as they are.' In the conclusion of his examination, he enumerates, as the counties where, as he is informed and believes, ribbonism exists, Westmeath, Meath, Sligo, Longford, King's County, Kildare, Louth, Dublin, and Cavan."
Captain Despard, another stipendiary magistrate, thus deposes, that he has reason to believe in the existence of the ribbon conspiracy, and that,
"According to his information, it spreads from the county of Kildare northward and westward into Connaught; that it is at present increasing rapidly, and has increased, and that the words used to him were, that the society was never working so strong as at present.' He details at great length the proceedings and organization of the society, and produces informations and oaths, and other documents relating to the society. As to their ultimate intentions, he states, They anticipate being able to effect a general rising in the country, with a view to taking possession of it; and that their intentions are, as sworn before him, whenever they can do that, to upset all the authori
ties, murder all the Protestants, and take possession of the country.' He explains the manner in which what are called in some of these papers, the quarrelling words' are used, in this way: If there is an obnoxious person to be beaten in a fair, the parties who are to beat him are strangers to him, and therefore he must be pointed out: the party to point him out goes up to him, and immediately puts his hand upon him, and makes use of one of these quarrelling words; for instance, "Do not be fond of quarrelling;" then the party who is to beat, to show that he sees the object, says, "I am not so disposed. The man who has pointed him out, walks off as if nothing had happened; the others keep him in view until the other man is out of sight, and then they lay upon him and lick him unmercifully.' And in the following answer, he also fully explains how the persons who are unacquainted with the person to be maltreated or murdered, are ordered by the authorities of the society to do so. He states, They sit in committee on that person-they debate what is to be done. It may be, they think it is only deserving of a beating; then men are brought ten or twenty miles who have never seen the person to be beaten, and who know nothing at all about him. If a man is to be shot, either one, two, or more persons are selected from a distance, to shoot that man, and they must do it or forfeit their own lives.' In a subsequent answer, Captain Despard expresses himself in the following manner, upon being asked as to the means of the society to raise the country for any particular object:- Your lordships must see that a society which is enabled, on discovery of its passwords, to change the whole of these passwords throughout the entire country, within the course of a very few days, must have some extraordinary means af communication. One mode of communication has come to my knowledge, and it is this: if a particular part of the county is to be raised, or the whole county, there is a man sent from, say, a lodge in Dublin, to the nearest town,
with verbal directions; he communicates to one man there what the orders are; that man gives them to three, whom he sends in different directions; each of these communicates with three others, and so on, each person multiplying by three, if I whole thing spreads rapidly through the may so make myself understood, until the county.""
Thus we have unexceptionable evidence, the evidence of intelligent gentlemen and government officers, to the existence of the formidable system; to the fearful extent of its influence over the lower orders; to some of the uses
to which it is at present applied; to its subserviency to election purposes; and the manner in which it may be employed by the leading demagogues in accomplishing any of the purposes upon which they may be bent. The gentlemen who thus testified, either are, or were, all of them, in the employment of the executive, and many of them nominees of Lord Normanby himself; and whose interest it would, decidedly, have been, to have given testimony more in accordance with the views and the statements of the noble marquess, to whom they must have been personally indebted, or upon whose colleagues in office they must have felt themselves dependent. In truth, much of their evidence was most reluctantly given. But we appeal to the reader whether it does not prove, to the utmost extent, that case of treasonable conspiracy which had been so perseveringly denied, and the dreadful state of social disorganization which was the consequence of the impunity with which it had been regarded? Does it not prove, that the lord lieutenant, and the other functionaries of government, were regularly and abundantly supplied with authentic information respecting this formidable conspiracy, which they studiously concealed from parliament, and in defiance of which, they had the hardihood to affirm, that tranquillity, and contentment, and obedience to the laws, were the result of the new system adopted under the Normanby administration? Mr. Rowan states, that, to a congratulatory address which was presented to the lord lieutenant from the county of Meath, there were appended more than forty names, which he knew to be those of affiliated ribbonmen! One of the papers found in a committee-room in Sligo, containing, among other things, some doggrel verses of a seditious character, concludes with these words :
May Francis, Earl of Mulgrave, sit on the throne,
For, surely, my friend, he is one of our own.”
Nor are these the only instances from which it appears that these misguided men calculated upon the forbearance, if not the friendship, of the executive, while Lord Normanby remained as viceroy in Ireland. It has been proved that many of them found their way into the police; and they were taught to believe that they might confidently expect the forbearance, at least, of the government, because of the services which they rendered the popish
and radical candidates at contested elections. It is, therefore, no wonder that the system increased as it did, while Lord Normanby remained here. The very screen which he held before it was favourable to its growth. "Crescit in occulto, velut arbor, in cevo." And were not that screen forcibly drawn aside, and the mischievous policy of the political man-milliner laid bare, it would have proceeded in its subtle and serpentine ramifications, until it had coiled its sinewy folds around all the institutions in the empire.
But a defence has been got up for the ex-lord lieutenant, and Mr. Drummond, the Irish under-secretary, was produced to swear that he did not believe the ribbon conspiracy to be the formidable thing that it was represented. It had, he said, no head; a fact, however, which remains to be proved; his allegation, supposing it to be true, only proving that he had not discovered the head; and it was, he said, utterly despicable for any purposes of extensive mischief; a statement contradicted by almost every other respectable witness, and utterly at variance with all the facts, which prove that the society is secret, energetic, prompt, and formidable, to a degree which invests it with a sort of demonaical omnipresence in all the disturbed districts of Ireland. Mr. Rowan, a gentleman whose great intelligence and sound discretion are duly appreciated by all who know him, whose coolness of judgment is one of his most remarkable peculiarities, and whose sagacity and discrimination have repeatedly obtained for him the strongest marks of approbation, the under-secretary coolly represents as weak and credulous, and endeavours to break the effect of his testimony by disparaging his understanding. We need not say that the attempt has proved abortive. There was not a member of the committee who heard his testimony, who did not come from it with the impression that Mr. Rowan was not only a most intelligent, but a most straightforward and honest man; and they saw, clearly, that the statements which he made were borne out, in almost all their parts, by other independent witnesses, and that they were grounded upon information cautiously received, and carefully sifted, and which was found, wherever an opportunity of testing it was afforded, to be strikingly in accordance with facts.
But what is the account which Mr.