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ten,' but briefly, 'two Strange, ten.' A barrister known by the soubriquet of
Little Alick,' was opposed to Blackburne in some case, in which he relied on the precedents contained in two Strange.' Blackburne, conceiving the authorities thus quoted against him were conclusive, threw up the cause, leaving the victory to Little Alick. But the court, not deeming the precedent contained in two Strange' so conclusive for Alick as Blackburne considered it, gave judgment against Alick's client, and of course in favour of Blackburne's. In announcing this decision, Lord Norbury threw off, on the bench, the following impromptu :
** Two Strange was Little Alick's case,
To run alone, yet win the race ;
""He was, indeed, a curious judge,' said O'Connell, “He had a considerable parrot-sort of knowledge of law-he bad upon his memory an enormous number of cases; but he did not understand, nor was he capable of understanding, a single principle of law. To be sure, his charges were the strangest effusions! I was once engaged before him upon an executory devise, which is a point of the most abstract and difficult nature. I made a speech of an hour and a-half upon the point, and was ably sustained, and as ably opposed, by brother counsel. We all quoted largely from the work of Fearne, in which many authorities and cases in point are col. lected. The cause was adjourned until next day, when Lord Norbury charged the jury in the following terms:
"• Gentlemen of the jury,-My learned brethren of the bench have carefully considered this subject, and have requested me to announce their decision, It is a subject of the most difficult na. ture, and it is as important as it is diffi. cult. I have the highest pleasure in bearing witness to the delight-yes, the delight ! and, I will add, the assistance, the able assistance, we have received from the masterly views which the counsel on both sides have taken of the matter. Gentlemen, the abilities and erudition of the counsel are above all praise. Where all displayed such eloquence and legal skill, it would be as difficult as invidious to say who was best. In fact, gentlemen of the jury, they were all best! Gentlemen, the authorities and precedents they have advanced in this most knotty and important case, are like a hare in Tipperary to be found in Fearne !' (fern.)
“Now, continued O'Connell, as he related this bit of judicial buffoonery,
in some years to come, if these things should be preserved, people won't believe them." But Lord Norbury has delivered stranger charges still. When charging the jury in the action brought by Guthrie versus Sterne, to recover damages for criminal conversation with the plaintiff's wife, his lordship said :
“Gentlemen of the jury, -The defendant in this case is Henry William Godfrey Baker Sterne-and there, géntlemen of the jury, you have him from stem to Sterne! I am free to observe, gentlemen, that if this Mr. Henry Wm. Godfrey Baker Sterne had as many Christian virtues as he has Christian names, we never should see the honest gentleman figuring here as defendant in an action for crim. con.'
“ The usual style of quoting law authorities some years ago, was not as at present, 'Second volume of Strange, page
We retain in our possession, at this present, a manuscript, in Lord Norbury's hand, written on the back of a letter, and presented by him to Sur. geon Carmichael, at, we believe, the last visit he paid him, when attending him in his last illness. The doctor had advised leeches for some inflammatory symptoms in his face, and the effect of the application is thus described by the facetious ex-judge, upon his dying bed :
“Dear Carmichael, the leeches have had a good pull,
The agitator observed that, when they were burying the judge :
“The grave was so deep that the ropes by which they were letting down the coffin did not reach the bottom of it. The coffin remained hanging at mid depth, while somebody was sent for more rope. “Aye,' cried a butcher's 'prentice, give him rope enough—don't stint him! He was the boy that never grudged rope to a poor body.'”
We would observe that this reproach was earned, more by his jocularity, than bis malignity. He did not deserve the character which was given him, as one who delighted in public executions. Many a time and oft, as we have been frequently informed by one whose duty it was to attend upon him, when “ruling the books," as it is called, on circuit, has he spared the life of a wretched culprit, from some owners of corn-fields, gardens or plantations, to kill and destroy all goats trespassing thereon; I contended that this legal power of destruction clearly demonstrated that goats were not proper. ty; and I thence inferred that the stealer of goats was not legally a thief, nor punishable as such. Poor Day charged the jury accordingly, and the prisoner was acquitted.""
good-natured recollection of some favourable feature in his case, which justified an extension of mercy. We have not heard many well-authenticated instances of his jesting when passing sentence, but a pun had for him irresistible attractions. He was possessed by a jovial spirit of self-enjoyment, which could not, on the gravest occasions, be repressed from breaking out into sallies which transgressed the rules of strict decorum ; and, as the reader has seen, he made a sportive allusion to his own infirmities when even upon the verge of the grave. It was but a very short time before bis death that he called to ask after the late Lord Erne, whose health was equally precarious—and when the servant informed him that his master was very « bad, indeed !" « Tell him," said the jocular nobleman, “it is a dead heat between us!”
Of the “Union" judges, as they were called, O'Connell delighted to tell disparaging anecdotes ; as every proof of a prostitution of patronage for such an object, was part of his munition of war in his combat for repeal. Daly, he said, was one of them :
“ He went into parliament to vote for the Union, and to fight a duel, if requisite, with any one who opposed it. Norbury was one of Castlereagh's unprincipled janisaries. Daly was no better. Daly was made Prime Serjeant for his services at the Union, although he had never held a dozen briefs in all his life. He was on the bench, I remember, when some case was tried, involving the value of a certain tract of land. A witness deposed that the land was worth so much per acre. Are you a judge of the value of land ?' asked Daly. “I think I am, my lord,' replied the witness. Have you experience in it ?' inquired Daly. Oh, my lord,' cried Counsellor Powell, with a most mean ing emphasis, did you ever know such a thing as a judge without erperience ?!"
How tickled he would have been, had he been reminded of the paragraph which appeared in the Press newspaper, upon his appointment. It was, if we remember aright, to this effect :-“ It has been customary for eminent lawyers, upon their promotion to the bench, to hand over their brief. bags to some learned friend ; thus pointing him out to their attorneys and clients as the individual whom they wish to succeed to their bar practice. Judge Day has departed from this good rule; we suppose for this reason, that he would not pay any friend of his an emptu complimenti
The very silly person who has favoured us with his “ Personal Recole lections,” is very indignant that any appointments should ever have been made from political considerations. We would be glad to hear his opinion of the promotions to the bench, since the Whigs and Radicals, by means of the Reform Bill, have obtained an almost continued monopoly of power. Have they made no partisan appointments ? Was O'Connell, to whom the patronage of Ireland was handed over, uniformly studious to recommend only the best lawyers for the highest places ? Or did Popery and Radical. ism serve as make-weights, in those who obtained this especial favour, for a very deficient knowledge of law ? It would be invidious to specify instances, and we shall, therefore, abstain from so doing. But we defy Mr. Daunt to lay his finger upon a single man who was indebted, for his seat upon the bench of judges, to his merits alone, under a Whig-Radical adminis. tration. And without justifying, for a single moment, improper appointments by any party, we take the liberty of telling him that there is an obliquity of vision, caused by a beam in his own eye, that should be removed, before he notices, with any severity, the mote in the eyes of other people.
Of Mr. O'Connell's Repeal politics
Of Judge Day, whose promotion took place in 1797, he used to say :
“Aye, poor Day!' said O'Connell, most innocent of law was my poor friend Day! I remember once I was counsel before him, for a man who had stolen some goats. The fact was proved, whereupon I produced to Judge Day an old act of parliament, empowering the
we are loath to speak with the fulness which the subject requires. The maxim “de mortuis," &c. is one which we re. verence;-and it is very difficult to hold it in remembrance in dealing with the Irish demagogue, in his advocacy and management of that question.
Could he have been sincere when he started it at first ? Was he honest in its prosecution ? These are the problems which his biographers will have to resolve. For our parts, without pronouncing a positive opinion, we find it very difficult to believe that a man of his vigorous intellect could have ever seriously entertained the thought, that England could, by any amount of moral force—the only force which he would permit himself or his followers to employ-be brought to consent to a dissolution of the legislative union. To do so would be to divide the empire against itself, and to sink it, at once, to the condition of a third or fourth rate power, incurring the contempt of every other state in Europe. That any one who was not positively insane, or a simpleton more deplorably imbecile than any insanity could make him, should have thus thought, or thus reasoned, it certainly startles our credulity to believe possi. ble: and that Mr. Daniel O'Connell should be that man, whose shrewdness and common sense were not second to those of any other living politician, is a supposition so monstrous, that we could not entertain it without outraging every principle of moral probability by which we have been accustomed to be guided in such inquiries.
O'Connell was not an enthusiast, in the ordinary sense of the word. He was not a man whose imagination ran away with him. He was very fond of alluding to his “ day-dreams," as he called them; but no public man was ever less deluded by visionary halluci. nations; and that a matter-of-fact intellect, such as his, could have seriously entertained the belief that English statesmen, of any party, could consent to a measure which would inevitably involve, as one of its not remote con sequences, the severance of Ireland from the British crown, we cannot for a moment imagine possible.
Strongly as we have, all our lives, been opposed to Mr. O'Connell, much more gratified should we be to find a good rather than a bad motive for the
extravagancies and the eccentricities of his turbulent and erratic career. But we positively cannot do so. He not only falsified all the professions upon the strength of which Emancipation had been obtained, but made use of the position which he attained in the legislature to enter upon a crusade against the established church, against any attempt to disturb or weaken which, he had recorded the most solemn obligation. But this new course of agitation was necessary to keep alive his popularity with the priesthood, whose aid was indispensable to obtain for him the vast sums of money which were annu. ally levied as the O'Connell rent. Nor is it possible to separate his Repeal movements from his financial arrangements. The raising of an enormous fund, by shilling and penny contributions, from the rags and poverty of his countrymen, was the main-spring of the moral force system, which was to effect a peaceful dissolution of the legislative union. He took good care that the machinery which he thus set in motion, should be under his complete control; and the steam pressure by which it was set in motion, was raised or lowered according as it served his personal purposes with any existing administration. Were the Conservatives in power, Ireland was to be convulsed; they were to be threatened with a renewal of the agitation by which he had extorted Emancipation. This country was to be made the min. ister's “great difficulty.” Were the Whigs in office, and contented to rule Ireland through him, the burning lava was no longer emitted from the volcanic crater of Irish grievances; and its internal rumblings were made to subside to a gentle premonitory murmur, just sufficient to indicate the existence of the slumbering elements, which would again flash forth their destructive fires, should any recusancy to comply with his most extravagant behests be mani. fested by his trembling masters.
Thus, while repeal agitation was to the people of Ireland a delusion and a mockery, it was to him an instrument of personal ambition. Without it, “his occupation was gone." The great agitator must sink to the level of ordinary political mountebanks and disturbers. He possessed, in no emi. nent degree, any of the powers of a great statesman; and could not have distinguished himself, by truly useful political labours, above most of those who were content to be numbered as his imitators and admirers. It was in " riding the whirlwind and direct. ing the storm” of Irish agitation that he was alone supreme; and divested of his prerogatives in that character, he would become comparatively unimportant.
But the game which he played was a hazardous one, and involved consequences for which he was not pre pared. Whatever may be thought of his own honesty or sincerity in follow ing the phantom of repeal, there was a growing number, by whom it was pursued with a passionate devoted. ness, and whom no cajolery could blind or baffle, in the intensity of their desire for its attainment. These young men were, and are, enthusiasts, in whom all personal feelings were, and are, absorbed in national objects. They had too deeply imbibed the spirit of O'Connell's lessons to be regulated by the letter of his instructions, and disdained to cover, by the flimsy pretext of " moral force," the machinery, and the incentives, to treason.
To muzzle this young faction, or to put a bridle in their mouths, by which they might be guided as he desired, now became O'Connell's object; and for years he was enabled, by his vast popularity and his priestly influence, to keep them within due bounds. He had begun to see very clearly the danger of pushing agitation to extremes, just as they had become convinced that by bolder movements they must be successful. He became fully impressed with the tremendous responsibility which he would incur, if he plunged the country into civil war; while over them hallucinations were predominant, which led them to re. gard such a contingency as the harbinger of Ireland's disenthralment; and it soon became manifest that there were irreconcilable differences between the Old and the Young Irelanders, and that the one were ready to brave all consequences in a reck, less daring for their country's rights; while the other, after ancient Pistol's fashion, talked, indeed, “ very brave words,” but took, at the same time, very good care “ to let I dare not' wait upon. I would,'" like the old cat in the adage.
Thus, the very turbulence and in. subordination by which the agitator had bullied and terrified successive governments, were now turned against himself. The Young Irelanders now became his “ difficulty.” He had nourished and brought up children, whose countenances reflected the very features of their parent, and they rebelled against him. Not only did they urge him to bolder measures, and threaten revolt, if their demands were not complied with, but they were perpetually making inconvenient allusions to matters of account, and demanding a full and satisfactory explanation of the expenditure of the vast sums which had been raised for repeal purposes, by the enthusiasm of the people. This was “the unkindest cut of all.” It struck the dictator in the tenderest part, and clearly proved to him that his supremacy was no longer undisputed. We will not say that he sank under the blow; but his warmest partisans ascribed to the annoyances thus experienced from the impracticable pertinacity of the Young Irelanders, the rapid increase of the maladies which hurried the old man to his grave.
But the evils that he caused have not been buried with him. Too long was he suffered to make a sport of the laws; too long was he suffered to trade upon agitation. He found those very acts and principles a passport to power and influence, which in former and better times would have led to another species of exaltation. He waged, for nearly half a century, a guerilla warfare against the institutions of the country. At first he was neglected, because he was despised; and, finally, he was tolerated, if pot encouraged, because he was feared, if not respected. A Conservative government made the fatal mistake, of admitting him and his faction to power, upon grounds of intimidation and alarm; and a Whig government soon found that they could not stand without him. The Litchfield House compact was the consequence, by which Ireland was given over to his tender mercies; and the anomalous and portentous spectacle was presented, of a British administration, controlled and manacled by an agitator who had excited the masses in Ireland to the verge of treason. Offences for which former dema
no moral result was produced ; and the demagogues exulted in their defeat, as in a victory. The following extract is exceedingly instructive, and clearly shews how Mr. O'Connell felt both before and after this abortive prosecution ;-how seriously he was affected when he apprehended (as well he might) that the charge against him would be made a capital felony; and how lightly he regarded it as soon as he found that he was to be indicted only for a seditious conspiracy.
gogues paid the penalty of exile, or forfeited their lives, he found sources of personal emolument, and political consideration; and had the Young Irelanders been only quiescent under his rule, there is no amount of mischief which he would not have finally accomplished, until, by obtaining concession after concession of constitutional principle and Protestant strength, he had succeeded in effect. ing the dismemberment of the empire.
Of the mistakes and oversights thus made, we are now reaping the bitter fruits. The dragon's teeth were then sown, which have since sprung up into armed men. When turbulence was made the arbiter of order, it is not surprising that « confusion worse confounded," should be produced. Former demagogues had to wrestle with the law; here the laws were placed in abeyance to the popular dis turber, and the Arch Agitator himself was enabled “to bestride our narrow world, like a colossus," " while we, little men," were compelled “ to peep about, and find ourselves dishonour. able graves."
When, at length, treason had reached a height beyond which endurance was impossible, the mode of dealing with it was almost as reprehensible as the previous neglect by which it had been rendered so alarming. The monster meetings, which never should have been suffered to assemble, were at tacked by a monster indictment, which was almost as unwieldly in the hands of the law officers, as the danger which it was intended to avert was tremendous. The case required a supersession of the ordinary clemency of the laws. A power of intimidation had been suffered to prevail, which rendered it in a high degree improbable, that they could be wisely or fearlessly administered. Such, and so open, was the seditious violence of the disaffected,
disaffected. that the principal difficulty of the law officers was to know whether what they were about to prosecute as sedi. tion, should not be prosecuted as treason-and, had the bolder course been taken, it would have been justified by the result, and agitation, in the person of Mr. O'Connell, would have received a blow from which it could not have speedily recovered. As the case was managed, contrary to all pro. bability, a verdict was obtained; but
“On the following day, the 12th of October, a report was spread that the Government would prosecute upon a charge of high treason. O'Connell's spirits, which had previously been excellent, seemed suddenly and greatly depressed by this information. He knew that the Government would not risk a prosecution for high treason without first being thoroughly certain of the jury. It was true, he said, that he should have the privilege of challenging the jury, a privilege which in a mere prosecution for sedition he would not possess; but the materials from which Dublin panels were taken were so leav. ened with bigoted orangeism, that he looked on his life as the certain forfeit.* But', said he, I scarcely think they will attempt a prosecution for high treason—though, indeed, there is hardly any thing too desperate for them to attempt! If they do, I shall make my confession, and prepare for death. Such a step would either immensely accelerate Repeal, or else throw it further back than ever.'
“But the real nature of the prosecution was speedily made known to the traversers. When O'Connell heard that he and his fellow-patriots were to be tried for a conspiracy,' he scoffed at the whole proceedings, as likely, indeed, to be harassing and tedious, but in no other respect formidable. One day he said to John O'Connell, I do not think two years' imprisonment would kill me; I should keep constantly walking about, and take a bath every day.'
« But why talk of imprisonment at all ?' returned John; 'surely there is, please God, no danger of it."
"I take the most discouraging view of the case,' said his father in order to be prepared for the worst.""
The prosecution ended in his committal to Richmond Penitentiary, for a period of three months, when the decision of the House of Lords, by which the verdict against him was set