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Drummond gives of this system, which, whether formidable or otherwise, is found in extensive operation throughout ten or twelve of the counties of Ireland? Why, that it is a contrivance of some Dublin publicans, adopted for the purpose of enabling them to sell their whiskey! Talk of credulity after that! Dublin publicans, the contrivers of a secret and illegal organization, for their own pecuniary emolument, and which has extended for more than half a century over the greater portion of the country! Verily, Mr. Drummond himself does not strain at a gnat, although he seeks to disparage Mr. Rowan for having, as he alleges, swallowed a camel. But would it not have become him to have informed the committee, when the ribbon society became the comparatively contemptible thing which he represents it? It was not so in 1825, when Mr. O'Connell bore testimony respecting it, before a committee of the house of commons; and when he declared it to be his belief that it was a continuance of the
defender system, which was in full operation before 1792, and was regarded by the leading united Irishmen, (for this we have Wolf Tone's testimony,) as the most hopeful nursery of treason. Mr. Drummond is mistaken, if he supposes that the ribbon system is a mushroom growth of recent years. His friend, Mr. O'Connell, could tell him a very different story; and had he been properly interrogated, his own credulity, (supposing that he believed himself,) might be made to appear at least as remarkable, as that of the gentleman whom he sought to discredit, and by whose skilful and most meritorious investigations, this mystery of iniquity has been detected.*
It is not, however, necessary to pursue this part of the subject farther. The Duke of Wellington but expressed the convictions of all the honest and enlightened members of the House of Lords, when he declared his belief in the existence of this atrocious conspiracy; and "that it was fortunate for the British public that complete evi
« H. W. ROWAN, ESQ.-Have you ever known of any policemen in ribbon societies? It has been stated to me by a ribbonman, that there were a good many among those recently introduced, who are ribbonmen. I refer to some who have been appointed within those six or eight months. He mentioned the names and residences of several. Have you had any means to ascertain whether there were the names of such persons in the police ?—I ascertained that there were. Do you conceive that this testimony was proved to be true?—I have no doubt of it. Are those men still in the force?-I know nothing to the contrary. Can individual Ribbonmen leave their Ribbon associations with safety?—That is a question I have frequently asked the parties. I think that where they have a pretext of being employed in the police establishment, either in the constabulary or the Dublin metropolitan police, that would be accepted as a sufficient reason. I think they have an object in that; that they conceive it is a desirable thing to have as many of them introduced into the police as possible.
"CAPTAIN G. DESPARD. Do you believe that there are any Ribbonmen in the police?—I do not know that there are any in the police at this moment; but I was obliged to dismiss one man for passing the Ribbon signs in the town of Slane; that is about six years ago. Subsequently to that, another man was employed by the chief constable to arrest a man against whom he has had my warrant now for two years, for a most outrageous offence; he posted this man and another man on a part by which this person was in the habit of escaping, and when he came up, one of the two policemen arrested him, and the other said, Let him go; he is not the man we want; he is a decent farmer's son, and I know him, for I was drinking in a shebeenhouse (which is an unlicensed whiskey-house) with him last night.' 'Oh,' said the other, take care you know him, for I think he is the very man we want.' He said, No, he is not; he is such a man's son.' The consequence was, he induced the other policeman to let him go; and it turned out, on investigation, that he was absolutely the man against whom the warrant was. The policeman was brought to trial, and was dismissed by the lord lieutenant; but, subsequently to his dismissal, in the town of Trim, he said, I did not know who he was at the time, but he threw that sign which no man that ever gives it to me shall ever fall into the hands of justice, and I do not care for my situation:' that man against whom the warrant was, remains at large to this day; he has never been arrested. For what was the warrant?-The crime was waylaying a man at night, and beating him with a ploughshare; splitting his head with a ploughshare. He beat him to that degree, that I think I never saw a man recover from, though I have seen many bad beatings. When did this circumstance take place?—That inan was dismissed on the 31st of March, 1838."
dence of it had been at length obtain ed; and that the country knew it was a conspiracy, founded upon the same principles, and carrying on its measures by the same means, as the conspiracy of United Irishmen, and other more extended conspiracies existing abroad; and that we likewise know that the government, her Majesty's government, had as it appears now, the knowledge of these things; that they were acquainted with the existence of these conspiracies at the very moment at which they were boasting, in the speeches of the sovereign, of the tranquillity of Ireland."
Perhaps it will be also said that the Duke is a gull; or, that he is factious; if so, it ought to be added, as a corollary, that it is quite a mistake to suppose he ever won a battle, or performed any distinguished part in public affairs. “Nil intra est oleam, nil extra est in nuce duri." Howsay Lord Normanby's peers, then, upon the second count of the indictment? Guilty or not guilty? His very friends, those who have always stretch. ed their consciences to vote with government whenever they could, the Duke of Richmond, for instance, are constrained to bring in a hostile verdict. With respect to the third point, the administration of justice, and the fourth, the wholesale and indiscriminating gaoldeliveries, we are the less inclined to dwell upon them at length; because they were brought under the review of the house of lords by Lord Brougham, in a speech of consummate eloquence; and not more remarkable for its eloquence, than its moderation. We are told that the effect of the noble lord's denunciation was withering upon the wretched ministers, who were compelled to make common cause with the ex-lord lieutenant; inasmuch as they had adopted all his public acts, and made the capricious and fantastic tom-fooleries by which he travestied royalty, the ground for giving him a step in the peerage. Well may he rejoice in the passing of the Reform bill; as we are assured that nothing but a house of commons, constituted as the present is, and composed of a majority, although, thank heaven, an evanishing majority, favourable to organic changes, by which the monarchy itself must be brought into peril, could save him from impeachment.
The cases of Gahan and of Sly, upon which the noble lord dwelt with such thrilling effect, are alone sufficient to ascertain the animus of Lord
Normanby and his law officers, in the administration of criminal justice in Ireland.
Gahan was convicted of an assault upon a policeman, of a most aggravated nature, obviously made with an intention to take away his life. The provocation was, that he had given some evidence by which offenders against the laws were brought to justice. This took place during Lord Haddington's administration, to whom an appeal had been made on Gahan's behalf, and by whom, after communication with the judge who tried the case, it was directed that the law should take its course. Before, however, this could be, the ministry were changed, and the place of the Earl of Haddington was filled by the Earl of Mulgrave. The criminal again appealed to viceregal clemency, the case was again, as before, referred to Chief Justice Doherty, and the decision to which he a second time came, was again adopted. Earl Mulgrave decided now, as Lord Haddington had decided before, that the law should take its course; and, accordingly, this hopeful blade was almost about to be sent to the bulk for transportation. But, as his good luck would have it, he had a brother who was a Roman Catholic priest; and that reverend personage soon found out a way of showing that there was still balm in Gilead for even the most notorious offenders. His mode of proceeding was as follows: he wrote a letter to Lord Normanby, most coarsely abusive of the Chief Justice, whom he accused of a leaning against his unfortunate brother, and broadly insinuated that the only reason why he had not been recommended to mercy was, that he was the brother of a priest. This letter was the foundation of a re-consideration of the case, which was taken out of the hands of the chief justice, and placed in the hands of the attorney-general, Sir Michael O'Loughlin, by whose advice the culprit was pardoned, and suffered to go at large, to the great delight of the Romish priesthood, who felt that they once more enjoyed, according to its ancient sense, the benefit of clergy, and that a refractory chief justice might be safely despised; and for the edification and encouragement of all similar offenders.
Such, in brief, was Gahan's case. The letter of the priest, his brother, had been enclosed to the chief justice, it is said by mistake; and the indignation which he expressed that such a
memorial should have been acted on, together with his expressed determination to keep a copy of it, was made, by the Irish government, an excuse for the further insult of passing him over altogether, not only upon that, but upon every other case which he tried, and thus leaving the executive without the least advice, in cases of appeals for mercy. A more reckless or wanton departure from an approved and ancient usage could scarcely be conceived, or one more fatally calculated to compromise the ends of justice.
And now, a word or two respecting the manner in which this case was disposed of by Sir Michael O'Loughlin, when the application of the priest caused the lord lieutenant, contrary to his former decision, a second time, to take it into consideration. The attorney-general discovered that a man named Connors had been previously tried for the same offence, before Judge Moore, found guilty, and sentenced to seven years' transportation; the extreme punishment provided by the law for the crime for which he stood indicted. The judge, however, when he passed this sentence, was under a la tent conviction that the man was innocent, but sentenced him to the extreme penalty, because a very strong feeling existed against him. And he never moved for any mitigation or remission of the sentence, until the matter was pressed upon him by the government; when he advises, first that transportation should be commuted into imprisonment; and afterwards that he should receive a free pardon. All this, as Sir Michael observed, was for Judge Moore to explain; all that he was concerned with was, that Connors, who had been tried for the same offence with which Gahan was charged, had been pardoned, and he immediately jumps to the inference, that Gahan should be pardoned also. One of the grounds, it must be observed, upon which a suspicion was entertained that Connors might have been unjustly convicted, was, that the prosecutors were suspected to be so drunk when the transaction occurred, that they could not identify the assailants. This suspicion was caused by the smell of whiskey having been perceived upon the persons of the wounded men, immediately after the outrage was perpetrated upon them; which was, however, accounted for by another witness, by the fact that their heads had been washed with whiskey. All this was
before the two juries who tried both cases, and who decided, without hesitation, that there were no grounds whatever for entertaining such a notion. But Sir Michael, who had not tried the case, before whom none of the witnesses appeared, without any conference with Chief Justice Doherty, such as might have put him more fully in possession of all the particulars than he could have been in any other way, thought fit, in the plenitude of his wisdom, to reverse the decision of both the juries, and set at nought the opinion of the judge, by recommending that Gahan, as well as Connors, should receive a free pardon. When asked, whether the lord lieutenant should not have had more reliance upon the judgment of the jury who tried, and the judge who presided at the trial, than upon his judgment, who could only have a second hand, and, comparatively, very imperfect knowledge of all the particulars, he naively observes, "that was for the government to decide." And Lord Normanby was too happy to have even that excuse for complying with the requisition of the priest, and showing him, that notwithstanding the decisions of juries, and the opinion of a chief justice, he was determined that no such trifling obstacles should interfere with the manner in which he was resolved to execute justice in Ireland. And well has he entitled himself to the cognomen of the felon's friend.
It would not be easy to convey an adequate idea of the power with which this case was handled by Lord Brougham; and we the more readily content ourselves with the very brief outline of it we have at present given, because we expect that his speech will shortly appear in a fuller or more correct form, when we may take an opportunity of again bringing the subject under the notice of our readers.
The case of Sly is one with which the public in this country are very familiar, but yet which never appeared so monstrous as when it was contrasted by Lord Brougham with that to which we have above alluded. A priest had been found dead, and some wretches were encouraged to accuse Sly, a Protestant, of his murder. Such was the prejudice excited against this unfortunate man, and so far was it countenanced by individuals connected with the government, that Mr. Macdonald, private secretary to Lord Morpeth, was heard to say, in a public coach, "that the public would not be satisfied unless
Sly was hanged." And that such was not the case, that the innocent man was not victimised, is not to be ascribed to the course pursued by the Irish executive, but to one of those providential interpositions by which, it sometimes happens, the guilty designs of the wicked are defeated, and in the net which they had laid for others are they themselves taken. A wretched woman was produced to swear, that she saw Sly commit the murder. It was clearly proved that she was in close confinement at the time when the murder was alleged to be committed, so that her perjury was but too plain. Sir Michael could not proceed upon it. Still, however, it was resolved to bring the man to trial, and another witness was produced, a wretch named Corrigan, who swore that Sly told him he committed the murder. And notwithstanding the monstrous improbability of the statement, Corrigan was put into the witness-box, and suffered to depose against the life of Sly, the attorney-general having had, as he tells us, such reason to distrust him that he actually despatched a short-hand writer to take notes of his evidence, that, in case of any gross prevarication, he might be prosecuted for perjury. He did most grossly prevaricate, and Sly was acquitted; and both he and Rooney were afterwards prosecuted for perjury, and both were convicted, and have been since transported. But we have heard of no inquiry into the statement which they are alleged to have made to Mr. Vignoles, the stipendiary magistrate, to wit, that they were moved and instigated to act as they had done, by some Roman Catholic priests, who put the perjuries into their mouths, and drilled them, by repeated rehearsals, for the performance of their parts in the court of justice! We hear nothing at all of this. We know not how far Sir Michael may have deemed it right or prudent to have pursued such an inquiry. But this we must say, that to wreak the vengeance of the law upon such subordinate wretches as Rooney and Corrigan, and to leave their employers and seducers touched, may be justice and policy, in Sir Michael's and Lord Normanby's acceptation of the term; but cannot be the justice which the wise and the righteous people of England must be desirous of seeing administered in Ireland.
With respect to the gaol deliverics,
as they have been called, or the wholesale discharge of prisoners without inquiry or discrimination-that has been so clearly and fully proved, and, indeed, so little attempt was made to justify the course which, in that particular, had been pursued, that all defence of it might be said to be abandoned. By Lord Normanby's statements upon this part of the subject, his claims to character for veracity may be ascertained. He averred, in the most solemn manner, that it was false that he ever ordered a prisoner to be discharged from confinement, without making the most patient and deliberate inquiry into the case; or that any prisoners owed their discharge to the mere accident of his passing through the towns, and visiting the places of their confinement. But what are the facts? 57 prisoners were discharged, out of 200 who were in prison, and that without any examination of their cases at all, or any other recommendation than that of the gaoler or turnkey! And the whole was done in somewhat less than an hour, affording less than a minute for each case, or less than half a minute, if all the cases were considered, from which it was deemed right to make a selection! After this, we can readily understand the modesty of Lord Normanby, in being slow to prosecute any witnesses for any deliberate perjury, no matter how revolting!
Well, we have now touched, and but barely touched, upon some of the topics which suggested Lord Brougham's resolutions; and these constitute but a very small portion of the mass of iniquity which was brought to light by the labours of the committee. Will the house of commons now resolve, that the course of government pursued by this shallow and mischievous charletan, is one in which it is wise and righteous to persevere? Is it thus justice is to be administered? Is it thus the opinions of the judges are to be set at nought? Is it thus a foul and dangerous conspiracy is to be concealed, if not countenanced? Is it thus the gaols are to be emptied of convicted felons, and gaolers and turnkeys permitted to reverse the sentences of the judges of the land? Is the brightest jewel of the crown thus to be entrusted to the safe-keeping of the very offscourings of human society? Is it thus royalty is to be travestied, and the dearest interests of a great community jeopardied, and the grave questions of guilt or innocence made a
matter of capricious mockery, so that they could not have been more wantonly trifled with, if a baboon, from central Africa, were decorated with the insignia, and invested with the prerogatives, of the lord lieutenant of Ireland? Will the house of commons now affirm all this? Will that grave and solemn assembly now take it upon them to say that nothing came out, before Lord Rodeu's committee, which was not matter of praise and gratulation to Lord Normanby, and that they were justified in the anticipatory verdict which they pronounced upon the case which they had not heard, and by which they hoped to prevent inquiry?
Never did a minister of the crown appear in so thoroughly despicable a point of view, as that in which Lord John Russell lately exhibited himself, when, with sneering petulance, he alluded to the resolutions of the lords, and, with a studied ambiguity of language, vaunted of his determination to disregard them. Never have we witnessed such an exhibition of mean and impotent resentment. Before the inquiry took place, when it was only about to commence, nothing would satisfy him short of a resolution of the house of commons, which implied that it was uncalled for; that, in proceeding upon it, the lords were arrogating an unconstitutional power; and that, so clear did Lord Normanby stand of any culpability, he should be regarded as a pattern to all future lords lieutenants, and the course which he pursued as so rigidly right and just, that any departure from it was to be deprecated as an evil. Well,— the lords were nothing daunted by this vapouring resolution of a body, who no longer represent the people. The inquiry went on. The malversations of the Irish government were brought to light. The wholesale prostitution of the prerogative of the crown was detected and exposed. The Ribbon conspiracy was made manifest. The Roman Catholic priesthood were proved to be the de facto government of Ireland. In short, an exposure takes place, which would, in the better times of the constitution, have furnished grounds for an impeachment. And what, then, does Lord John Russell do, whose wrath was so moved by the presumption of the lords in even meditating inquiry? Does he storm and threaten them with any marks of his high displeasure? No. Does
he even chafe and bluster, and talk big, as he did before; or make any attempt to show that the criminatory matters of fact, upon which the resolutions of their lordships were built, had, in reality, no existence ? No. Does he offer any explanation of them which might furnish even a colourable justification? No such thing at all. He takes the proceedings of the upper house with about the same degree of commendable meekness which ancient Pistol exhibited when he was compelled by the choleric Welshman to eat the leek; and even showed that he could rival the same celebrated character, by playing the part of lion as mildly as a sucking dove. The fire which threattened wide-spread conflagration, goes out with an expiring hiss. And a few ambiguous expressions of petty malevolence and discontent are all that remain of the high-sounding and boastful phraseology with which he championed the cause of the Irish lord lieutenant, before the public were yet fully informed of the case that has been made against him. The steed whose prancings and curvetings threatened to dismount the most practised of the equestrian order, has now become so manageable and quiet that even a lady may ride him.
Much as the labours of the committee have brought to light, we venture, deliberately, to affirm, that they have as yet gone but skin deep into the subject of their inquiries. The atrocious Ribbon conspiracy remains, as yet, a mystery to their lordships and to the public; nor have they discovered any clue by which they might be enabled to trace to their source its subterraneous ramifications. We are ourselves in possession of evidence which would lead pretty directly to the inference, that it is not without a head; and should the inquiry be resumed, we are not without a hope that the guilt of, at least, a passive participation in its designs, will be brought home to some of the most conspicuous of the public disturbers. But it is clearly conceivable that their ends may be as effectually answered, even while they stand aloof from it, as they could be, if by sworn brotherhood they were connected with its leaders.
The Defender system, which was in full operation in 1792, and which, as we before observed, Mr. O'Connell described as identical with what is now called the Ribbon Society, had no as