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in authority it was called a menace of “physical force.” For several months however no interference took place, and the language of intimidation held by the principal speakers on these occasions, increased in openness and vehemence daily. At length, upon the 7th of October, a proclamation by the Lord-Lieutenant in council appeared, prohibiting a meeting which had been appointed to take place at Clontarf on the following day. Military preparations were taken to enforce acquiescence; but the masses who had congregated at the appointed scene, conformed to the advice given them by their leaders, and dispersed quietly. Some days afterwards, O'Connell, his son, and six other persons, were arrested on a charge of conspiracy; and having been admitted to bail, bills of indictment were found against them by the grand jury at the ensuing term. Then began the monster proceedings, as from their voluminous pleading and interminable prolixity of argument, they were justly styled, ending in a trial before Chief Justice Pennefather and a special jury, on the 12th of February, 1844. Each of the defendants claimed his right to be heard by separate counsel; and Mr. Sheil appeared on behalf of Mr. John O'Connell.

For some weeks previous to the trial he had been

labouring under an attack of gout. He sought to escape the pain and prostration incident to a malady which peculiarly incapacitates its victims from continuous intellectual exertion, by resorting to the use of colchicum. But while he thus obtained liberation of his mind from the bondage of suffering, his physical frame remained for the most part a close prisoner, and his limbs were seldom released from their flannel swathings. In this state he set about preparing his speech to evidence. Two days previous to that fixed for its delivery in the Court of Queen's Bench, an application was made to him by some of the gentlemen engaged in reporting the proceedings in the State trials for the London press, respecting the best mode of obtaining a correct copy for the purpose they had in view. Owing to the then existing postal arrangements, they calculated that it would be impossible to give the speech correctly yet so as to be in time for publication in the London morning papers of a particular day, if it were taken in short-hand as it was spoken, and transmitted after transcription at a late hour of the night. In a word, they were anxious to obtain beforehand a copy of what they supposed he had written. Great was their disappointment at being told that, though he had the speech in his head,

nothing but a few memoranda existed on paper. Far greater was their surprise when he undertook to speak it for them by anticipation. With his hands wrapped in flannel he kept moving slowly up and down the room, repeating with great rapidity, and occasionally with his wonted vehemence of intonation, passage after passage, and paragraph after paragraph; then, wearied with the strange and irksome effort, he would lay himself down upon a sofa, and after a short pause re-commence his expostulation with the jury, his allusions to the bench, and his sarcastic apostrophies to the counsel for the Crown. On he went, with but brief interruptions, and few pauses to correct or alter, until the whole was finished and had been accurately noted down. Written out with care, it was sent to the printer, and at the moment when he rose to speak in court, printed copies were in the hands of those who had faithfully rendered his ideas previously. As he proceeded they were thus enabled to mark easily and rapidly any slight variations of phraseology; but these for the most part were so few and trivial as to cause little delay in the correction of the proofs. In the main, the speech was repeated in public verbatim as it had been previously spoken in private, the whole of the arrangement and

nine-tenths of the language being identically the


It would be impossible to do justice to this admirable specimen of his forensic oratory by any analysis of the topics dwelt upon, or description of his manner and aspect on the occasion. A few brief extracts must suffice :

“The Attorney-General, in a statement of eleven or twelve hours' duration, read a long series of extracts from speeches and publications extending over a period of nearly nine months. At the termination of every passage which was cited by him, he gave utterance to expressions of strong resentment against the men by whom sentiments so noxious were circulated, in language most envenomed. If, gentlemen of the jury, his anger was not simulated; if his indignation was not merely official; if he spoke as he felt, how does it come to pass that no single step was ever taken by him for the purpose of arresting the progress of an evil represented by him to be so calamitous ? He told you that the country was traversed by incendiaries who set fire to the passions of the people; the whole fabric of society, according to the Attorney-General, for the last nine months has been in a blaze; wherefore then did he stand with folded arms to gaze at the conflagration ? Where were the Castle fire-engines—where was the indictment—and of ex officio information what had become ? Is there not too much reason to think that a project was formed, or rather that a plot was concocted, to decoy the traversers; and that a connivance, amounting almost to sanction, was deliberately adopted as a part of the policy of the Government, in order to betray the traversers into indiscretions of which advantage was in due time to be taken? I have heard it said that it was criminal to tell the people to bide their time;' but is the Government to 'bide its time' in order to turn popular excitement

to account? The public prosecutor who gives an indirect encouragement to agitation, in order that he may afterwards more effectually fall upon it, bears some moral affinity to the informer, who provokes the crime from whose denunciation his ignominious livelihood is derived. Has the Attorney-General adopted a course worthy of his great office-worthy of the ostensible head of the Irish bar, and the representative of its intellect in the House of Commons ? Is it befitting that the successor of Saurin and of Plunket, who should keep watch and ward' from his high station over the public safety, should descend to the performance of functions worthy only of a commissary of the French police; and in place of being the sentinel should become the * Artful Dodger' of the State ? But what, you may ask, could be the motive of the right honourable gentleman for pursuing the course he has adopted, and for which no explanation has been attempted by him ? He could not have obtained any advantage signally serviceable to his party by prosecuting Mr. Duffy or Dr. Gray for strong articles in their newspapers; or by prosecuting Mr. Steele or Mr. Tierney for attending unlawful assemblies. He did not fish with lines—if I may avail myself of an illustration derived from the habits of my constituents at Dungarvan—but cast a wide and nicely-constructed trammel-net, in order that by a kind of miraculous catch he might take the great agitator-leviathan himself, a member of Parliament, Mr. Steele, three editors of newspapers, and a pair of priests, in one stupendous haul together. But there was another object still more important to be gained. Had the Attorney-General prosecuted individuals for the use of violent language, or for attending unlawful meetings, each individual would have been held responsible for his own acts; but in a prosecution for conspiracy, which is open to every one of the objections applicable to constructive treason, the acts and the speeches of one man are given in evidence against another, although the latter may have been at the distance of a hundred miles when the circumstances used against him as evidence, and of which he had no sort of cognizance, took

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