Page images

nothing more, as I was fortifying the house; Sub-inspector Cox came up in about an hour and a-half.”

We confess that on no supposition of this Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald being with the insurgents in order to dissuade them from insurrection, can we understand the part that he acted on this occasion. He attempts first to cajole, and then to terrify the police into an abandonment of their duty-duty which they were sworn to discharge; and he endeavours, by inducing them, to surrender their arms and their position to a rebel force—to do the very thing which would, of all others, give the fiercest impetus to insurrection over the whole country. When, then, we add to all these evidences the sanguinary letters of Fathers Kenyon, Hughes, Bermingham, and others-when we call to mind that Dr. Maginn, and all the clergy of his diocese, joined the “league,”when we remember the hatred to the heretic and Sassenach, which ever has been the ruling principle of the Irish Roman Catholic priests, and the fact that every one of them has been long tutored in the sedition of Conciliation Hall, and that Sir C. Trevelyan, secretary to the treasury, who ought to have some access to information on the subject, states, in a letter to the Morning Chronicle, “That there cannot be a doubt that the great body of the Roman Catholic priests have gone into the movement in the worst, that is, in the rebellious sense.” When we bear all these facts in mind, we feel that a strong case of suspicion is made out against the government, and one which imperatively calls for an investigation by parliament. We must not, however, forget that the solicitor-general indignantly denied the charge :

We confess that we feel in justice the government is entitled to the benefit of this denial, until the time comes when the whole matter can be tho. roughly sifted in parliament-we think it highly probable that, although there may be abundant evidence to satisfy every reasonable man, beyond the possibility of doubt of the complicity of very many of the priests, that yet there may turn out, that there does not exist that demonstrative evidence of guilt which the law requires for conviction-we think it very likely that they have been too wary to commit themselves by anything approaching to overt acts of treason, although not too well affected, nor too scrupulous to instigate others to embark in it.

Again, the attorney-general has been assailed for not giving the prisoners the advantage they would have if tried in England, that of being furnished with a list of the witnesses. Now it will not be supposed that we care to go out of our way to defend the attorney-general of a Whig government-but we think it highly important, as regards the estimation which 'the country is to hold in the eyes of other nations, that the character of the administration of justice in our courts shall be upheld: that factious spirit which leads one Irishman ever to be prone to run down another who is opposed to him in poli. tical opinion, is one of the many curses of the country. We must say then, that we do not see by what arıthority Mr. Monahan could take upon himself to extend to prisoners on trial in this country, certain privileges which the law has limited to England. We are aware that there was a plea in abatement put in on this ground for all the prisoners, and a writ of error applied for, which will of course be granted by the attorneygeneral; but assuming the law to be as it has always been hitherto regarded as applying only to England, would any attorney-general be authorized in taking upon himself to extend its provisions to this country? There may be very good grounds imagined, why in England the prisoner should have such a privilege, which in Ireland it might be most perilous to concede to him. If the attorney-general were limited to the witnesses endorsed on the in

“He," the solicitor-general," was sure that his excellent and learned friend, Mr. Whiteside, would not lend the credit of his high character to a calumny as foul as it was false; and that the jury would give the government the credit, that if any evidence were put forward against any person, whether a layman or a minister of the Church, proceedings would be instituted without regard to his station or his religion, to bring the delinquent to justice.

dictment, any one of them refusing to give testimony on the table (and two witnesses so refused in Mr. O'Brien's case), might defeat the whole prosecution against the greatest delinquents on earth; for the attorney-general would be precluded from supplying his place by fresh testimony, inasmuch as the witness to whom he should then resort for such evidence, had not been endorsed on the indictment. In Eng. land the bulk of society are enlisted in support of the law-in Ireland they are arrayed in hostility to it; and it may be worthy of consideration, whether “appropriate" laws rather than “ equal" laws is not the thing which is needed. We can very readily conceive that it would lead, in in numerable cases, to a failure of justice, if the prisoner in this country were given the advantage over the govern. ment which he has in England, that, namely, of knowing the witnesses to be produced by the crown, while the crown knows nothing of the witnesses

to be produced by the prisoner. Public opinion now serves as a check on the crown in the conduct of a prosecution, and prevents the public prosecutor from abusing the advantage the law confers on him ; but everything would be allowed to a prisoner on his defence, and every advantage would be taken by him to defeat the prosecution.

Our space and time both admonish us that we must now draw this hasty notice to a close, which we do with greater regret, because that we are precluded from adverting, as we could have wished, to the incomparable ad. vocacy of Whiteside and of Butt, on behalf of the prisoners; there is no such defence on record as that made for Mr. Meagher, since the days of Erskine, nor not anything approaching to it: but we hope to have other op. portunities of adverting to this noble specimen of forensic ability; for the present we must close.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

In a paper on the early history of India, published some time ago in this magazine,f we commenced our observations by referring to the indifference exhibited by the home public to all topics connected with our Asiatic empire; and we did so, as we then stated, not because the circumstance was either striking or anomalous, but for the better reason of its practical importance. “ We could," as we then expressed ourselves, “ little hope for any marked improvement in the social condition of the natives of India, un. til the people of these countries bad such an acquaintance with it, as that a public opinion could be formed on the subject, and was known to exist." “It was only," we added, “to such pres. sure from without that the difficulties which attend the promotion of Christianity in India—the main sanitary provi. sion for all its ills, spiritual, moral, and even industrial—would ever give way, and that one of the first steps towards the formation of this public opinion, was the diffusion of some knowledge of the history and statistics of the country.” In humble aid of this object we then took up our pen, and with like purpose we now resume it. In regard to the fact of ignorance of, and apathy to, Indian interests, we find our views corroborated by what we believe we are entitled to call the highest authority on such a point, the Times newspaper, which, in a leading article of two years' later date--that is, on the 14th of June, 1847, dwells on the circumstance as a woeful truth, and

cites the saying of “one of our most accomplished writers and speakers, at this moment a member of her Majesty's cabinet," whom most of our readers will easily recognise as the able and eloquent Mr. Macaulay; and who “avowed his conviction that not one in ten of our most highly-educated gentlemen had the faintest conception of these incidents of British Indian history, which would correspond with the victories of Alfred, or the landing of the Conqueror, in our domestic annals.”

We gladly admit that since the appearance of our previous paper, this insensibility to Asiatic interests has been a good deallessened. This is partly an effect, and one which we anticipated, of the rapid, regular, and frequent communication by what is miscalled the “ overland passage," which passes over no land except the hand's-breadth at Suez. This acknowledged improvement must, however, be most of all ascribed to the felt jeopardy to which our Indian empire was exposed by the unexpected aggression of the Sikhs. That taught us for, perhaps, the first time, deeply to appreciate the value of our imperial colony, and our views of interest were blended with nobler feelings in the triumphs which followed.

Although India is immeasurably the most important of all our great dependencies, there is not another in regard to which we have an equal tendency to indifference. The philosophy of the cause of this appears to be, that it is the only one with which we are not

* “Mill's History of British India." Edited, and now completed, by Horace Hayman Wilson, M.A., F.R.S. 9 Vols. London: Madden, 1848. "The Life of Lord Clive." By the Rev. G. R. Gleig. London: Murray. 1848. Vide DUBLIN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE, No. CL. VOL. XXXíl.-NO. CXCII.

2 x

« PreviousContinue »