Speeches from the Dock, Part I

Part 3 out of 5

have a government of her own before many weeks.

On the evening of Tuesday, July 25th, the Confederate leaders arrived in
Mullinahone, where they slept. On the following morning they addressed
the people, who flocked into the town on hearing of their arrival. And
here it was that O'Brien himself dealt the death blow of the movement.
The peasantry, who came from their distant homes to meet him, were left
the whole day long without food or shelter. O'Brien himself gave what
money he had to buy them bread; but he told them in future they should
provide for themselves, as he could allow no one's property to be
interfered with. Hungry and exhausted, the men who listened to him
returned at night to their homes; they were sensible enough to perceive
that insurrection within the lines laid down by their leaders was
impossible; the news that they were expected to fight on empty stomachs
was spread amongst the people, and from that day forward the number of
O'Brien's followers dwindled away.

On July 26th, O'Brien and his party first visited the village of
Ballingarry, where he was joined by M'Manus, Doheny, Devin Reilly, and
other prominent members of the Confederation. They took a survey of the
village and its neighbourhood; addressed the crowd from the piers of the
chapel gate, and slept in the house of one of the village shopkeepers.
Next day they returned to Mullinahone and thence to Killenaule, where
they were received with every demonstration of welcome and rejoicing.
Bouquets fell in showers upon O'Brien; addresses were read, and the
fullest and warmest co-operation was freely promised by the excited
crowds that congregated in the streets.

The exact position which the Confederates had now assumed towards the
Crown and government, is deserving of a moment's attention. Up to the
last they carefully distinguished between resisting the acts of the
government and disputing the sovereignty of the queen. They regarded the
suspension of the _Habeas Corpus_ Act as unconstitutional in itself; and
when O'Brien told her Majesty's Ministers in the House of Commons, that
it was they who were the traitors to the country, the Queen, and the
Constitution, he did but express the opinions that underlay the whole
policy of the Confederation. Even the passing of the _Habeas Corpus_
Suspension Act was not quite sufficient to exhaust their patience; in
order to fill the measure of the government's transgressions and justify
a resort to arms against them, it was necessary in the opinion of
O'Brien and his associates, that the authorities should attempt to carry
into operation the iniquitious law they had passed; the arrest of
O'Brien was to be the signal for insurrection; meanwhile, they were
satisfied with organizing their forces for the fray, and preparing for
offering an effective resistance to the execution of the warrant,
whenever it should make its appearance. It was therefore that when at
Killenaule, a small party of dragoons rode up to the town they were
suffered to proceed unmolested; at the first notice of their coming, the
people rushed to the streets and hastily threw up a barricade to
intercept them. Dillon commanded at the barricade; beside him stood
Patrick O'Donoghue, and a young man whose career as a revolutionist, was
destined to extend far beyond the scenes in which he was then sharing;
and whose name was one day to become first a terror to the government of
England, and afterwards a by-word and a reproach amongst his countrymen.
O'Donoghue and Stephens were both armed, and when the officer commanding
the dragoons rode up to the barricade and demanded a passage, Stephens
promptly covered him with his rifle, when his attention was arrested by
a command from Dillon to ground his arms. The officer pledged his honour
that he did not come with the object of arresting O'Brien; the barricade
was taken down; and the dragoons passed scatheless through the town.
Another opportunity had been lost, and the hearts of the most resolute
of O'Brien's colleagues sunk lower than ever.

On Friday, O'Brien and his followers returned to Ballingarry, where they
held a council on the prospects of the movement. It was clear that the
case was a desperate one, that the chance of successful resistance was
inevitably lost, and that nothing now awaited them--should they persist
in their enterprise--but ruin and death. Only a couple of hundred men,
wretchedly armed or not armed at all, adhered to their failing fortunes;
and throughout the rest of the country the disaffected gave no sign. But
O'Brien was unmovable; he would do his duty by his country, let the
country answer for its duty towards him.

The collision came at last. On Saturday morning, July 29th, the
constabulary of Thurles, Kilkenny, Cashel, and Callan received orders to
march on the village of Ballingarry, for the purpose of arresting Smith
O'Brien. On the previous day the government had issued a proclamation,
declaring him guilty of treasonable practices, by appearing in arms
against the Queen, and offering a reward of L500 for his apprehension;
on the same day, L300 was offered for the arrest of Meagher, Dillon,
and Doheny. Fired with the ambition of capturing the rebel party with
his own forces, and winning for himself a deathless fame, Sub-Inspector
Trant marched out in hot haste from Callan, at the head of forty-six
policemen, and directed his steps towards Ballingarry, where it was
known to him that O'Brien was still stopping. Between twelve and one
o'clock they arrived at Farrenrory, within three miles of the village of
Ballingary. On arriving at this point the police found that effective
measures had been adopted to dispute their further progress. Across the
road before them a barricade had been thrown up, and behind it was
arrayed a body of men, numbering from three to four hundred. Fearing to
face the insurgent forces, the police turned off to the right, and
rushed towards a slate house which they saw in the distance. The people
saw the object of the movement, and at once gave chase; but the police
had the advantage of a long start, and they succeeded in reaching the
house and barring the door by which they entered, before their pursuers
came up.

The die was cast, and the struggle so long watched for, and sighed for,
had come at last. But it came not as it had been depicted by the tribune
and poet; the vision that had flashed its radiancy before the eager eyes
that hungered for the redemption of Ireland, differed sadly from the
miserable reality. The serried ranks of glittering steel, the files of
gallant pikemen, the armed columns of stalwart peasants, pouring through
gap and river course, the glimmering camp fires quivering through the
mist, the waving banners, and the flashing swords--where were they now?
Where were the thousands of matchless mould, the men of strength and
spirit, whose footfalls woke the echoes one month before in a hundred
towns as they marched to the meetings at which they swore to strike down
the oppressor? Only a few months had passed since two thousand
determined men had passed in review before O'Brien at Cork; scarcely six
weeks since, similar sights were witnessed from the city of the Shannon
to the winding reaches of the Boyne. Everywhere there were strength,
and numbers, and resolution; where were they now in the supreme hour of
the country's agony? A thousand times it had been sworn by tens of
thousands of Irishmen, that the tocsin of battle would find them
clustered round the good old flag to conquer or die beneath its shadow.
And now, the hour had come, the flag of insurrection so often invoked
was raised; but the patriot that raised it was left defenceless: _he_ at
least kept his word, but the promises on which he relied had broken like
dissolving ice beneath his feet.

Around O'Brien there clustered on that miserable noontide, about four
hundred human beings--a weak, hungry, and emaciated looking throng for
the most part; their half naked forms, browned by the sun, and hardened
by the winter winds--a motley gathering; amongst whom there were scores
of fasting men, and hundreds through whose wretched dwellings the, wind
and rain found free ingress. They were poor, they were weak, they were
ignorant, they were unarmed! but there was one, thing at least which
they possessed--that quality which Heaven bestowed on the Irish race, to
gild and redeem their misfortunes. Of courage and resolution they had
plenty: they understood little of the causes which led to the outbreak
in which they participated; of Smith O'Brien or his associates few of
them had heard up to their appearance at Ballingarry; but they knew that
it was against the forces of the British government and on behalf of
Ireland's independence they were called on to fight, and in this cause
they were ready to shed their blood. Such was the party whom O'Brien
gazed upon with a troubled mind on that eventful day. Even the attached
companions who had so far attended him were no longer by his side;
M'Manus, O'Donoghue, and Stephens were still there; but Meagher, Dillon,
Doheny and O'Gorman had left at break of day to raise the standard of
insurrection in other quarters. Of the men around him not more than
twenty possessed firearms, about twice that number were armed with pikes
and pitchforks; the remainder had but their naked hands and the stones
they could gather by the wayside.

On the other side were forty-seven disciplined men splendidly armed,
and ensconced moreover in a building possessing for the purpose of the
hour the strength of a fortress. It stood on the brow of a hill
overlooking the country in every direction; it consisted of two storeys
with four windows in each, in front and rere; each gable being also
pierced by a pair of windows. There were six little children in the
house when the police entered it. Their mother, the Widow M'Cormick
arrived on the spot immediately after the police had taken possession of
her domicile, and addressing O'Brien she besought him to save her little
ones from danger. On O'Brien's chivalrous nature the appeal was not
wasted. Heedless of the danger to which he exposed himself he walked up
to the window of the house. Standing at the open window with his breast
within an inch of the bayonets of the two policemen who were on the
inside, he called on them to give up their arms, and avoid a useless
effusion of blood. "We are all Irishmen, boys" he said, "I only want
your arms and I'll protect your lives." The reply was a murderous volley
poured on the gathering outside. Some half drunken person in the crowd
it appears had flung a stone at one of the windows, and the police
needed no further provocation. The fire was returned by the insurgents,
and O'Brien seeing that his efforts to preserve peace were futile,
quitted the window and rejoined his companions. For nearly two hours the
firing continued; the police well sheltered from the possibility of
injury fired in all about 220 rounds, killing two men and wounding a
number of others, amongst them James Stephens who was shot in the thigh.
Long before an equal number of shots were fired from without, the
ammunition of the insurgents was exhausted, and they could only reply to
the thick falling bullets with the stones which the women present
gathered for them in their aprons. It was clear that the house could not
be stormed in this way; and M'Manus, with half-a-dozen resolute
companions, rolled a cartload of hay up to the kitchen door with the
intention of setting fire to it and burning down the house. But O'Brien
would not permit it; there were children in the house, and their
innocent lives should not be sacrificed. In vain did M'Manus entreat him
for permission to fire his pistol into the hay and kindle the ready
flames, O'Brien was inexorable; and the first and last battle of the
insurrection was lost and won. The Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald, the priest of
the parish, and his curate, Father Maher now appeared on the spot, and
naturally used their influence to terminate the hopeless struggle, a
large force of constabulary from Cashel soon after were seen
approaching, and the people, who now saw the absolute uselessness of
further resistance broke away to the hills. The game was up; the banner
of Irish independence had again sunk to the dust; and O'Brien, who had
acted throughout with preternatural coolness, and whose face gave no
more indications of emotion than if it had been chiseled in marble,
turned from the scene with a broken heart. For a length of time he
resisted the entreaties of his friends and refused to leave the spot; at
last their solicitations prevailed, and mounting a horse taken from one
of the police he rode away.

From that fatal day down to the night of Saturday, August 5th, the
police sought vainly for O'Brien. He slept in the peasant's hut on the
mountain and he shared his scanty fare; a price which might well dazzle
the senses of his poverty-stricken entertainers was on his head, and
they knew it; over hill-side and valley swarmed the host of spies,
detectives, and policemen placed on his track; but no hand was raised to
clutch the tempting bribe, no voice whispered the information for which
the government preferred its gold. Amongst those too who took part in
the affray at Ballingarry, and who subsequently were cast in shoals into
prison, there were many from whom the government sought to extract
information. Bribes and promises of pardon were held up before their
eyes, menaces were freely resorted to, but amongst them the government
sought vainly for an informer. Many, of them died in captivity or in
exile; their homes were broken up; their wives and children left
destitute and friendless; but the words that would give them liberty
and wealth, and terminate the sufferings of themselves and their
families were never spoken. Had O'Brien chosen to escape from the
country like Doheny, O'Gorman, Dillon and other of his friends, it is
probable he might have done so. He resolved however on facing the
consequence of his acts and sharing the fate of the Irish rebel to the
bitter end.

The rain fell cold and drearily in the deserted streets of Thurles on
the night which saw the arrest of William Smith O'Brien. Away over the
shadowy mountains in the distance, the swimming vapours cast their
shroud, wrapping in their chilling folds the homes of the
hunger-stricken prostrate race that sat by their fireless hearths. The
autumn gale swept over the desolate land as if moaning at the ruin and
misery that cursed it, and wailing the dirge of the high hopes and
ardent purposes that a few short weeks before had gladdened the hearts
of its people. Calmly and deliberately with folded arms O'Brien walked
through the streets, and entered the Thurles Railway Station. He wore a
black hat, a blue boat cloak, in which he was rather tightly muffled,
and a light plaid trousers; in his hand he carried a large black stick.
He walked to the ticket office and paid his fare to Limerick; then
wrapping himself up in his cloak and folding his arms, again he walked
slowly along the platform awaiting the arrival of the train. He had
resolved on surrendering himself for trial, but he wished to pay one
last visit to his home and family. That gratification however was denied
him, he was recognised by an Englishman named Hulme, a railway guard; in
an instant he was surrounded by police and detectives, and torn of with
brutal violence to gaol. That same night an express train flashed
northwards through the fog and mist bearing O'Brien a prisoner to
Dublin. In the carriage in which he was placed sat General M'Donald, a
Sub-Inspector of Constabulary and four policemen. On entering the train
a pistol was placed at O'Brien's head, and he was commanded not to speak
on peril of his life. Disregarding the injunction, he turned to M'Donald
and asked him why he was so scandalously used. The General "had a duty
to perform," and "his orders should be obeyed." "I have played the game
and lost," said O'Brien, "and I am ready to pay the penalty of having
failed; I hope that those who accompanied me may be dealt with in
clemency; I care not what happens to myself."

On Thursday, September 28th, he was arraigned before a Special
Commission on a charge of high treason at Clonmel. The trial lasted ten
days, and ended in a verdict of guilty. It excited unprecedented
interest throughout the country, and there are many of its incidents
deserving of permanent record. Amongst the witnesses brought forward by
the crown was John O'Donnell, a comfortable farmer, who resided near
Ballingarry. "I won't be sworn," he said on coming on the table, "or
give evidence under any circumstances. You may bring me out and put a
file of soldiers before me, and plant twenty bullets in my breast, but
while I have a heart there I will never swear for you." He expiated his
patriotism by a long imprisonment. Nor was this a solitary instance of
heroism; Richard Shea, a fine looking young peasant, on being handed the
book declared that "he would not swear against such a gentleman," and he
too was carried off to pass years within a British dungeon. But their
sacrifices were unavailing; of evidence there was plenty against
O'Brien; the police were overflowing with it, and the eloquence and
ability of Whiteside were powerless to save him from a verdict of

The papers of the time are full of remarks on the firmness and
self-possession displayed by O'Brien throughout the trial. Even the
announcement of the verdict failed to disturb his composure, and when
the usual question was asked he replied with calmness and deliberation:

"My lords, it is not my intention to enter into any vindication of my
conduct, however much I might have desired to avail myself of this
opportunity of so doing. I am perfectly satisfied with the
consciousness that I have performed my duty to my country--that I
have done only that which, in my opinion, it was the duty of every
Irishman to have done; and I am now prepared to abide the
consequences of having performed my duty to my native land. Proceed
with your sentence."

A deep murmur, followed by a burst of applause filled the court as the
noble patriot ceased speaking. Stepping back a pace, and folding his
arms on his breast, O'Brien looked fixedly at the judge, and awaited the
sentence of the court. Amidst the deepest sensation, Chief Justice
Blackburne proceeded to discharge his task. O'Brien was sentenced to be
hanged, beheaded, and quartered. "During the delivery of the sentence,"
says a writer of the period, "the most profound agitation pervaded in
the court; as it drew towards the close, the excitement became more
marked and intense; but when the last barbarous provisions of the
sentence were pronounced, the public feeling could only manifest itself
by stifled sobs and broken murmurs of sympathy for the heroic man, who,
alone, was unmoved during this awful scene, whose lips alone did not
quiver, whose hand alone did not tremble, but whose heart beat with the
calm pulsation of conscious guiltlessness and unsullied honour."

Nine months later (July 29th, 1849), the brig "Swift" sailed from
Kingstown harbour, bearing O'Brien, Meagher, M'Manus, and O'Donoghue
into exile. In the month of November the vessel reached Hobart Town,
where "tickets of leave" were offered to those gentlemen on condition of
their residing each one within a certain district marked out for him,
and giving their parole to make no attempt at escape while in possession
of the ticket. Messrs. Meagher, M'Manus, and O'Donoghue accepted these
terms; Mr. O'Brien refused them, and was consequently sent to an island
off the coast called Maria Island, where he was placed in strict custody
and treated with great severity. The news of the indignities and the
sufferings to which he was subjected, outraged the feelings of the Irish
people in the neighbouring country, and ere long his sympathisers in
Tasmania laid a plan for his escape. They hired a vessel to lie off the
coast on a particular day, and send a boat on shore to take off the
prisoner, who had been informed of the plot, and had arranged to be in
waiting for his deliverers. This design would unquestionably have
succeeded but for the treachery of the captain of the ship, who, before
sailing to the appointed spot, had given the government information of
the intended escape and the manner of it. What occurred on the arrival
of the vessel we shall relate in the words of Mr. Mitchel, who tells the
story in his "Jail Journal" as he heard it from Mr. O'Brien himself:

"At last as he wandered on the shore and had almost given up all hope of
the schooner, the schooner hove in sight. To give time for her approach
he walked into the woods for a space, that he might not alarm his
guardian constable by his attention to her movements. Again he sauntered
down towards the point with apparent carelessness, but with a beating
heart. San Francisco was to be his first destination; and beyond that
golden gate lay the great world, and home, and children, and an
honourable life. The boat was coming, manned by three men; and he
stepped proudly and resolutely to meet them on the shore. To be sure
there was, somewhere behind him, one miserable constable with his
miserable musket, but he had no doubt of being able to dispose of that
difficulty with the aid of his allies, the boatmen. The boat could not
get quite close to the beach, because they had to run her into a kind of
cove where the water was calm and unencumbered with large tangled weeds.
O'Brien, when he reached the beach, plunged into the water to prevent
delay, and struggled through the thick matted seaweed to the boat. The
water was deeper than he expected, and when he came to the boat he
needed the aid of the boatmen to climb over the gunwale. Instead of
giving him this aid the rascals allowed him to flounder there, and kept
looking to the shore, where the constable had by this time appeared with
his musket. The moment he showed himself, the three boatmen cried out
together, 'We surrender!' and invited him on board; where he instantly
took up a hatchet--no doubt provided by the ship for that purpose, and
stove the boat. O'Brien saw he was betrayed, and on being ordered to
move along with the constable and boatmen towards the station, he
refused to stir--hoping, in fact, by his resistance, to provoke the
constable to shoot him. However, the three boatmen seized on him, and
lifted him up from the ground, and carried him wherever the constable
ordered. His custody was thereafter made more rigorous, and he was
shortly after removed from Maria Island to Port Arthur station."

To this brief narrative the following "note" is appended in the work
from which we have just quoted:--

"Ellis, the captain of the schooner, was some months after seized at San
Francisco by Mr. M'Manus and others, brought by night out of his ship,
and carried into the country to undergo his trial under a tree,
whereupon, if found guilty, he was destined to swing. M'Manus set out
his indictment; and it proves how much Judge Lynch's method of
administering justice in those early days of California excelled
anything we know of law or justice in Ireland--that Ellis, for want of
sufficient and satisfactory evidence then producible, was acquitted by
that midnight court, under that convenient and tempting tree."

Port Arthur station, to which Mr. O'Brien was removed from Maria Island,
was a place of punishment for convicts who, while serving out their
terms of transportation, had committed fresh offences against the law.
After a detention there for some time, Mr. O'Brien, whose health was
rapidly sinking under the rigours of his confinement, was induced, by
letters, from his political friends to accept the ticket-of-leave and
avail of the comparative liberty which they enjoyed. The government, on
his acceptance of their terms, placed him first in the district of New
Norfolk, and subsequently in that of Avoca, where he remained until the
conditional pardon, already mentioned in these columns, was granted in
1854. He then left Australia, went on to Madras, where he made a stay of
about a month; from thence he went to Paris and on to Brussels, where he
was joined by his wife and children. He next made a tour in Greece, and
was in that country when the unconditional pardon, which permitted him
to return to his native land, was granted in the month of May, 1856,
immediately after the close of the Crimean war. On Tuesday, July 8th,
1856, Mr. O'Brien stood once more upon his native soil after an exile of
eight years. The news of his arrival was joyfully received by his
fellow-countrymen, who welcomed him with every mark of respect and
affection whenever he appeared among them. Thence-forward Mr. O'Brien
took no active part in Irish politics, but he frequently offered advice
and suggestions to his countrymen through the medium of letters and
addresses in the _Nation_. In February, 1859, Mr. O'Brien made a voyage
to America, and during the ensuing months travelled through a great
portion of that country. After his return to Ireland he delivered, in
November, 1859, an interesting series of lectures on his tour, in the.
Mechanics' Institute, Dublin. On July 1st, 1863, he lectured in the
Rotundo, Dublin, for the benefit of a fund which was being raised for
the relief of the wounded and destitute patriots of the Polish
insurrection. In the early part of the year, 1864, the health of the
illustrious patriot began rapidly to fail, and he was taken by his
friends to England for a change of air. But the weight of many years of
care and suffering was on him, and its effects could not be undone. On
the 16th of June, 1864. at Bangor, the noble-hearted patriot breathed
his last. His family had the honoured remains brought to Ireland for
interment in the old burial-ground of his fathers. On Thursday morning
at an early hour they reached Dublin on board the "Cambria" steamer. It
was known that his family wished that no public demonstration should be
made at his funeral, but the feelings of the citizens who desired to pay
a tribute of respect to his memory could not be repressed. In the grey
hours of the morning the people in thousands assembled on the quays to
await the arrival of the remains, and two steamers, which had been
chartered for the purpose, proceeded, with large numbers on board, some
distance into the harbour to meet the approaching vessel. All along the
way, from the North Wall to the Kings-bridge railway station, the hearse
bearing the patriot's body was accompanied by the procession of
mourners, numbering about 15,000 men. At various stages of the journey
similar scenes were witnessed. But the end was soon reached. In the
churchyard of Rathronan, Co. Limerick, they laid him to rest. The green
grass grows freshly around the vault in which he sleeps, and has long
filled up the foot-prints of the multitude who broke the silence of that
lonely spot by their sobs on the day he was buried; the winter gales
will come and go, and touched by the breath of spring, the wild flowers
will blossom there through succeeding years; but never again will a
purer spirit, a nobler mind, a patriot more brave, more chivalrous, or
more true, give his heart to the cause of Ireland, than the
silvered-haired, care-burthened gentleman whom they bore from Cahirmoyle
to his grave on the 24th day of June, 1864.

* * * * *


Early in 1846, when the Repeal Association was still powerful and great,
and ere yet the country had ceased to throb to the magic of O'Connell's
voice, there rose one day from amongst those who crowded the platform of
Conciliation Hall, a well-featured, gracefully-built, dark-eyed young
gentleman, towards whom the faces of the assembly turned in curiosity,
and whose accents when he spoke, were those of a stranger to the
audience. Few of them had heard of his name; not one of them--if the
chairman, William Smith O'Brien be excepted--had the faintest idea of
the talents and capacities he possessed, and which were one day to
enrapture and electrify his countrymen. He addressed the meeting on one
of the passing topics of the day; something in his manner savouring of
affectation, something in the semi-Saxon lisp that struggled through his
low-toned utterances, something in the total lack of suitable gesture,
gave his listeners at the outset an unfavourable impression of the young
speaker. He was boyish, and some did not scruple to hint conceited; he
had too much of the fine gentleman about his appearance, and too little
of the native brogue and stirring declamation to which his listeners
had been accustomed. The new man is a failure, was the first idea that
suggested itself to the audience: but he was not; and when he resumed
his seat he had conquered all prejudices, and wrung the cheers of
admiration from the meeting. Warming with his subject, and casting off
the restraints that hampered his utterances at first, he poured forth a
strain of genuine eloquence, vivified by the happiest allusions, and
enriched by imagery and quotations as beautiful as they were
appropriate, which startled the meeting from its indifference, and won
for the young speaker the enthusiastic applause of his audience. O'Brien
complimented him warmly on his success, and thus it was that the orator
of Young Ireland made his debut on the political platform.

Meagher was not quite twenty-three years of age when his voice was first
heard in Conciliation Hall. He was born in Waterford of an old Catholic
family, which through good and ill had adhered to the national faith and
the national cause; his school-boy days were passed partly at
Clongowes-wood College, and partly under the superintendence of the
Jesuit Fathers at Stoneyhurst in Lancashire. His early years gave few
indications of the splendid wealth of genius that slumbered within his
breast. He took little interest in his classical or mathematical
studies; but he was an ardent student of English literature, and his
compositions in poetry and prose invariably carried away the prize. He
found his father filling the Civic Chair in Waterford, when he returned
from Stoneyhurst to his native city. O'Connell was in the plenitude of
his power; and from end to end of the land, the people were shaken by
mighty thoughts and grand aspirations; with buoyant and unfaltering
tread the nation seemed advancing towards the goal of Freedom, and the
manhood of Ireland seemed kindling at the flame which glowed before the
altar of Liberty. Into the national movement young Meagher threw himself
with the warmth and enthusiasm of his nature. At the early age of twenty
we find him presiding over a meeting of Repealers in his native city,
called to express sympathy with the State Prisoners of '43, and he
thence-forward became a diligent student of contemporary politics. He
became known as an occasional speaker at local gatherings; but it was
not until the event we have described that Meagher was fairly launched
in the troubled tide of politics, and that his lot was cast for good or
evil, with the leaders of the national party.

Up to the date of secession Meagher was a frequent speaker at the
meetings of the Repeal Association. Day by day his reputation as a
speaker extended, until at length he grew to be recognised as the orator
of the party, and the knowledge that he was expected to speak was
sufficient to crowd Conciliation Hall to overflowing. When the influence
of the _Nation_ party began to be felt, and signs of disunion appeared
on the horizon, O'Connell made a vigorous effort to detach Meagher from
the side of Mitchel, Duffy, and O'Brien. "These young Irelanders," he
said, "will lead you into danger." "They may lead me into danger,"
replied Meagher, "but certainly not into dishonour."

Against the trafficking with the Whigs, which subsequently laid the
Repeal Association in the dust, and shipwrecked a movement which might
have ended in the disinthralment of Ireland, Meagher protested in words
of prophetic warning. "The suspicion is abroad," he said, "that the
national cause will be sacrificed to Whig supremacy, and that the
people, who are now striding on to freedom, will be purchased back into
factious vassalage. The Whigs calculate upon your apostacy, the
Conservatives predict it." The place beggars, who looked to the Whigs
for position and wealth, murmured as they heard their treachery laid
bare and their designs dissected in the impassioned appeals by which
Meagher sought to recall them to the path of patriotism and duty. It was
necessary for their ends that the bold denouncer of corruption, and the
men who acted with him, should be driven from the association; and to
effect that object O'Connell was hounded on to the step which ended in
the secession. The "peace resolutions" were introduced, and Meagher
found himself called on to subscribe to a doctrine which his soul
abhorred--that the use of arms was at all times unjustifiable and
immoral. The Lord Mayor was in the chair, and O'Brien, John O'Connell.
Denis Reilly, Tom Steele, and John Mitchel had spoken, when Meagher rose
to address the assembly. The speech he delivered on that occasion, for
brilliancy and lyrical grandeur has never been surpassed. It won for him
a reception far transcending that of Shiel or O'Connell as an orator;
and it gave to him the title by which he was afterwards so often
referred to--"Meagher of the Sword." He commenced by expressing his
sense of gratitude, and his attachment to O'Connell, "My lord," he

"I am not ungrateful to the man who struck the fetters off my limbs
while I was yet a child, and by whose influence my father, the first
Catholic that did so for two hundred years, sat for the last two
years in the civic chair of my native city. But, my lord," he
continued, "the same God who gave to that great man the power to
strike down one odious ascendency in this country, and who enabled
him to institute in this land the laws of religious equality--the
same God gave to me a mind that is my own, a mind that has not been
mortgaged to the opinion of any man or set of men, a mind that I was
to use and not surrender."

Having thus vindicated freedom of opinion, the speaker went on to
disclaim for himself the opinion that the Association ought to deviate
from the strict path of legality. But he refused to accept the
resolutions; because he said "there are times when arms alone will
suffice, and when political ameliorations call for 'a drop of blood,'
and for many thousand drops of blood." Then breaking forth into a strain
of impassioned and dazzling oratory he proceeded:--

"The soldier is proof against an argument--but he is not proof
against a bullet. The man that will listen to reason--let him be
reasoned with. But it is the weaponed arm of the patriot that can
alone prevail against battalioned despotism.

"Then, my lord, I do not condemn the use of arms as immoral, nor do I
conceive it profane to say that the King of Heaven--the Lord of
Hosts! the God of Battles!--bestows his benediction upon those who
unsheath the sword in the hour of a nation's peril. From that evening
on which, in the valley of Bethulia, he nerved the arm of the Jewish
girl to smite the drunken tyrant in his tent, down to this our day,
in which he has blessed the insurgent chivalry of the Belgian priest,
His Almighty hand hath ever been stretched forth from His throne of
Light to consecrate the flag of freedom--to bless the patriot's
sword! Be it in the defence, or be it in the assertion of a people's
liberty, I hail the sword as a sacred weapon; and if, my lord, it had
sometimes taken the shape of the serpent, and reddened the shroud of
the oppressor with too deep a dye, like the anointed rod of the High
Priest, it has at other times, and as often, blossomed into celestial
flowers to deck the freeman's brow.

"Abhor the sword--stigmatize the sword? No, my lord, for in the
passes of the Tyrol it cut to pieces the banner of the Bavarian, and,
through those cragged passes, struck a path to fame for the peasant
insurrectionists of Inspruck! Abhor the sword--stigmatize the sword?
No, my lord, for at its blow a giant nation started from the waters
of the Atlantic, and by its redeeming magic, and in the quivering of
its crimsoned light the crippled colony sprang into the attitude of a
proud Republic--prosperous, limitless, and invincible! Abhor the
sword--stigmatize the sword? No, my lord, for it swept the Dutch
marauders out of the fine old towns of Belgium--scourged them back to
their own phlegmatic swamps--and knocked their flag and sceptre,
their laws and bayonets, into the sluggish waters of the Scheldt.

"My lord, I learned that it was the right of a nation to govern
itself, not in this hall, but on the ramparts of Antwerp; I learned
the first article of a nation's creed upon those ramparts, where
freedom was justly estimated, and where the possession of the
precious gift was purchased by the effusion of generous blood. My
lord, I honor the Belgians for their courage and their daring, and I
will not stigmatize the means by which they obtained a citizen-king,
a chamber of Deputies."

It was all he was permitted to say. With flushed face and excited
gesture John O'Connell rose, and declared he could not sit and listen to
the expression of such sentiments. Either Mr. Meagher or he should leave
the Association; O'Brien interceded to obtain a hearing for his young
friend, and protested against Mr. O'Connell's attempts to silence him.
But the appeal was wasted, O'Brien left the hall in disgust, and with
him Meagher, Duffy, Reilly, and Mitchel quitted it for ever.

Meagher's subsequent career in Ireland is soon told. He was a regular
attendant at the meetings of the Confederation, of which he was one of
the founders, and the fame of his eloquence, his manly appearance, and
the charms of his youthful frankness contributed immensely towards the
growth of the new organization. He always acted with O'Brien, whom he
loved in his inmost soul, but he was respected and admired by every
section of nationalists, the Mitchelites, the Duffyites, and we might
even say the O'Connellites. When the country began to feel the influence
of the whirlwind of revolution which swept over the continent,
overturning thrones and wrecking constitutions as if they were built of
cardboard, Meagher shared the wild impulse of the hour, and played
boldly for insurrection and separation. He was one of the three
gentlemen appointed to present the address from Ireland to the French
Republican government in 1848; and in the speech delivered by him at the
crowded meeting in the Dublin Music Hall before his departure, he
counselled his countrymen to send a deputation to the Queen, asking her
to convene the Irish parliament in the Irish capital. "If the claim be
rejected," said Meagher, "if the throne stand as a barrier between the
Irish people and the supreme right--then loyalty will be a crime, and
obedience to the executive will be treason to the country. Depute your
worthiest citizens to approach the throne, and before that throne let
the will of the Irish people be uttered with dignity and decision. If
nothing comes of this," he added, "if the constitution opens to us no
path to freedom, if the Union be maintained in spite of, the will of the
Irish people, if the government of Ireland insist on being a government
of dragoons and bombadiers, of detectives and light infantry, then," he
exclaimed in the midst of tumultuous cheering, "up with the barricades,
and invoke the God of Battles!"

While the Republican spirit was in full glow in Ireland, Meagher
astonished his friends by rushing down to Waterford and offering himself
as a candidate for the post left vacant in parliament by the resignation
of O'Connell. By this time the Confederates had begun to despair of a
parliamentary policy, and they marvelled much to see their young orator
rush to the hustings, and throw himself into the confusion and turmoil
of an election contest. _Que le diable allait il faire dans cette
galere_ muttered his Dublin friends. Was not the time for hustings
orations, and parliamentary agitation over now? Meagher, however,
conceived, and perhaps wisely, that he could still do some good for his
country in the House of Commons. He issued a noble address to the
electors of his native city, in which he asked for their support on the
most patriotic grounds. "I shall not meddle," he said, "with English
affairs. I shall take no part in the strife of parties--all factions are
alike to me. I shall go to the House of Commons to insist on the rights
of this country to be held, governed, and defended by its own citizens,
and by them alone. Whilst I live I shall never rest satisfied until the
kingdom of Ireland has won a parliament, an army, and a navy of her
own." Mitchel strongly disapproved of his conduct. "If Mr. Meagher were
in parliament," said the _United Irishman_, "men's eyes would be
attracted thither once more; some hope of 'justice' might again revive
in this too easily deluded people." The proper men to send to parliament
were according to Mitchel, "old placemen, pensioners, five pound
Conciliation Hall Repealers." "We have no wish to dictate," concluded
Mitchel in an article on the subject, full of the lurking satire and
quiet humour that leavened his writings, "but if the electors of
Waterford have any confidence in us, we shall only say that we are for

"Costello" was defeated, however, but so was Meagher. The Young Ireland
champion was stigmatized as a Tory by the Whigs, and as a rebel by the
Tories; if _the people_, as Mitchel remarks had any power he would have
been elected by an overwhelming majority, but the people had no votes,
and Sir Henry Winston Barren was returned. Meagher went back to Dublin
almost a convert to Mitchel's views, leaving Whig, Tory, and West Briton
to exult over his discomfiture.

We have already seen what Meagher did when the guage of battle was
thrown down, and when "the day all hearts to weigh" was imagined to have
arrived, we have seen how he accompanied O'Brien in his expedition from
Wexford to Kilkenny, and thence to Tipperary; and how on the morning of
July 29th, 1848, he left O'Brien at Ballingarry, little dreaming of the
tragedy which was to make that day memorable, and expecting to be able
to bring reinforcements to his leader from other quarters before the
crisis came. He failed however in his effort to spread the flames of
insurrection. The chilling news of O'Brien's defeat--distorted and
exaggerated by hostile tongues--was before him everywhere, and even the
most resolute of his sympathisers had sense enough to see that their
opportunity--if it existed at all--had passed away. On the 12th day of
August, 1848, Meagher was arrested on the road between Clonoulty and
Holycross, in Tipperary. He was walking along in company with Patrick
O'Donoghue and Maurice R. Leyne, two of his intimate friends and
fellow-outlaws, when a party of police passed them by. Neither of the
three was disguised, but Meagher and Leyne wore frieze overcoats, which
somewhat altered their usual appearance. After a short time the police
returned; Meagher and his companions gave their real names on being
interrogated, and they were at once arrested and taken in triumph to
Thurles. The three friends bore their ill fortune with what their
captors must have considered provoking nonchalance. Meagher smoked a
cigar on the way to the station, and the trio chatted as gaily as if
they were walking in safety on the free soil of America, instead of
being helpless prisoners on their way to captivity and exile.

Meagher stood in the dock at Clonmel a week after O'Brien had quitted it
a convict. He was defended by Mr. Whiteside and Isaac Butt, whose
magnificent speech in his defence was perhaps the most brilliant display
of forensic eloquence ever heard Within the court in which he stood. Of
course the jury was packed (only 18 Catholics were named on a jury-panel
of 300), and of course the crown carried its point. On the close of the
sixth day of the trial, the jury returned into court with a verdict of
"guilty," recommending the prisoner to mercy on the ground of his youth.

Two days later he was brought back to the dock to receive sentence. He
was dressed in his usual style, appeared in excellent health, and bore
himself--we are told--throughout the trying ordeal, with fortitude and
manly dignity. He spoke as follows:--

"My lords, it is my intention to say a few words only. I desire that
the last act of a proceeding which has occupied so much of the public
time, should be of short duration. Nor have I the indelicate wish to
close the dreary ceremony of a state prosecution with a vain display
of words. Did I fear that hereafter, when I shall be no more, the
country I tried to serve would speak ill of me, I might, indeed,
avail myself of this solemn moment to vindicate my sentiments and my
conduct. But I have no such fear. The country will judge of those
sentiments and that conduct in a light far different from that in
which the jury by whom I have been convicted have viewed them, and by
the country the sentence which you, my lords, are about to pronounce,
will be remembered only as the severe and solemn attestation of my
rectitude and truth. Whatever be the language in which that sentence
be spoken, I know that my fate will meet with sympathy, and that my
memory will be honoured. In speaking thus, accuse me not, my lords,
of an indecorus presumption in the efforts I have made in a just and
noble cause. I ascribe no main importance, nor do I claim for those
efforts any high reward. But it so happens, and it will ever happen
so, that they who have lived to serve their country--no matter how
weak their efforts may have been--are sure to receive the thanks and
blessings of its people. With my countrymen I leave my memory, my
sentiments, my acts, proudly feeling that they require no vindication
from me this day. A jury of my countrymen, it is true, have found me
guilty of the crime of which I stood indicted. For this I entertain
not the slightest feeling of resentment towards them. Influenced as
they must have been by the charge of the Lord Chief Justice, they
could perhaps have found no other verdict. What of that charge? Any
strong observations on it I feel sincerely would ill-befit the
solemnity of this scene; but I would earnestly beseech of you, my
lord--you who preside on that bench--when the passions and the
prejudices of this hour have passed away, to appeal to your own
conscience, and ask of it, was your charge what it ought to have
been, impartial and indifferent between the subject and the crown? My
lords, you may deem this language unbecoming in me, and perhaps it
may seal my fate; but I am here to speak the truth, whatever it may
cost--I am here to regret nothing I have ever done, to regret nothing
I have ever said--I am here to crave with no lying lip the life I
consecrate to the liberty of my country. Far from it. Even
here--here, where the thief, the libertine, the murderer, have left
their foot-prints in the dust--here, on this spot, where the shadows
of death surround me, and from which I see my early grave in an
unanointed soil open to receive me--even here, encircled by these
terrors, that hope which first beckoned me to the perilous sea on
which I have been wrecked, still consoles, animates, and enraptures
me. No; I do not despair of my poor old country--her peace, her
liberty, her glory. For that country I can do no more than bid her
hope. To lift this island up--to make her a benefactor to humanity,
instead of being, as she is now, the meanest beggar in the world--to
restore to her her native powers and her ancient constitution--this
has been my ambition, and this ambition has been my crime. Judged by
the law of England, I know this crime entails upon me the penalty of
death; but the history of Ireland explains that crime and justifies
it. Judged by that history, I am no criminal, you (addressing Mr.
M'Manus) are no criminal, you (addressing Mr. O'Donoghue) are no
criminal, and we deserve no punishment; judged by that history, the
treason of which I stand convicted loses all its guilt, has been
sanctified as a duty, and will be enobled as a sacrifice. With these
sentiments I await the sentence of the court. I have done what I felt
to be my duty. I have spoken now, as I did on every other occasion
during my short life, what I felt to be the truth. I now bid farewell
to the country of my birth--of my passions--of my death; a country
whose misfortunes have invoked my sympathies--whose factions I sought
to quell--whose intelligence I prompted to a lofty aim--whose freedom
has been my fatal dream. To that country I now offer as a pledge of
the love I bore her, and of the sincerity with which I thought and
spoke, and struggled for her freedom, the life of a young heart; and
with that life, the hopes, the honours, the endearments of a happy, a
prosperous, and honourable home. Proceed, then, my lords, with that
sentence which the law directs--I am prepared to hear it--I trust I
am prepared to meet its execution. I shall go, I think, with a light
heart before a higher tribunal--a tribunal where a Judge of infinite
goodness, as well as of infinite justice, will preside, and where, my
lords, many many of the judgments of this, world will be reversed."

There is little more for us to add. Meagher arrived with O'Brien,
O'Donoghue, and M'Manus in Van Dieman's Land in October, 1849, and
escaped to America in 1852. He started the _Irish News_ in New York,
which he enriched by personal recollections of the stirring scenes in
which he participated; but his career as a journalist closed abruptly
with the outbreak of the war of Secession, when he raised a Zouave
Company to join Corcoran's 69th Regiment, with which he fought gallantly
at Bull's Run. Every one remembers how the gallantry of the Irish
regiment in which Meagher served, saved the Federal forces from
annihilation on that field of disaster. Subsequently he raised and
commanded the Irish Brigade, which won imperishable laurels throughout
the hard-fought campaigns that ended with the capture of Richmond. When
Mr. Johnson became President of the United States, he appointed Meagher
to the position of Governor of Montana Territory, in the far West, a
post which he held until his death.

His end was sad and sudden. One dark wild night in July, 1867, a
gentleman suddenly disappeared from the deck of the steamer on which he
was standing, and fell into the great Missouri, where it winds its
course by the hills of Montana. The accident was too sudden for availing
assistance. A sudden slip, a splash, a faint cry, a brief struggle, and
all was over; the hungry waters closed over him, and the rapid rolling
current swept away his lifeless corpse. The finished scholar, the genial
friend, the matchless orator, the ardent patriot was no more. Thomas
Francis Meagher was dead.

* * * * *


Another bold, clever, and resolute opponent of British rule in Ireland
was torn from the ranks of the popular leaders on the day that Kevin
Izod O'Doherty was arrested. Amongst the cluster of talented and able
men who led the Young Ireland phalanx, he was distinguished for his
spirit and his mental accomplishments; amongst the organizers of the
party his ready words, manly address, and ceaseless activity gave him a
prominent position; amongst its journalists he was conspicuous for
fearlessness, frankness, and ability. Over the surging waves of the
excitement and agitation that convulsed the country during the period
which ended with the affray at Ballingarry, and through the haze which
time has cast over the attempted revolution of '48, his figure looms up
in bold proportions, suggestive of mental capacity, fortitude of soul,
and tenacity of purpose. For him, as for many of his brilliant
associates, the paths of patriotism led down to proscription and pain;
but O'Doherty fulminating the thunderbolts of the _Tribune,_ or sowing
the seeds of patriotism amongst the students of Dublin, was not one whit
more self-possessed or undaunted than when standing a convict in the
Greenstreet dock, he awaited the sentence of the court.

Kevin Izod O'Doherty was born of respectable Catholic parents in Dublin,
in June, 1824. He received a liberal education, by which he profited
extensively, showing even in his school-days strong evidences of natural
ability, and talents, of more than average degree. He directed his
attention to the medical profession on completing his education, and was
in the full tide of lectures and hospital attendance when the
development of the national sentiment that pervaded the year '48 drew
him into the vortex of public life. He became a hard working and
enthusiastic member of the Young Ireland party, and was one of the
founders of the Students' and Polytechnic Clubs, which were regarded by
the leaders in Dublin as the _elite_ of the national force in the
capital. When Mitchel was struck down and his paper suppressed,
O'Doherty was one of those who resolved that the political guidance
which the _United Irishman_ was meant to afford, should not be wanting
to the people. In conjunction with Richard Dalton Williams--"Shamrock"
of the _Nation_--he established the _Irish Tribune_, the first number of
which saw the light on the 10th of June, 1848. There could be no mistake
about the objects of the _Tribune_, or the motives of its founders in
establishing it. The British government could ill afford to endure the
attacks on their exactions and usurpations thundered forth weekly in its
articles. Its career was cut short by the mailed hand of authority at
its fifth number, and on the 10th of July, '48, Kevin Izod O'Doherty was
an inmate of Newgate prison.


On the 10th of August he was placed at the bar of Green-street
court-house, and arraigned on a charge of treason-felony, and a vigorous
effort was made by the crown to convict him. The attempt, however, was a
failure; the jury-panel had not been juggled as effectively as usual,
and a disagreement of the jury was the consequence. The crown, however,
had no idea of relaxing its grasp of its victim; after John Martin's
conviction O'Doherty was put forward again, and a new jury selected to
try him. Again were the government defeated; the second jury like the
first refused to agree to a verdict of guilty, and were discharged
without convicting the prisoner. A third time was O'Doherty arraigned,
and this time the relentless hatred of his persecutors was gratified by
a verdict of guilty. The speech delivered by Mr. O'Doherty after
conviction was as follows:--

"My lords--I did hope, I confess, that upon being placed in this dock
for the third time, after two juries of my fellow-citizens had
refused to find a verdict against me, that while my prosecutors would
have been scrupulous in their care in attempting to uphold their law,
they would not have violated the very spirit of justice."

Judge Crampton.--"I have a great difficulty in preventing you from
making any observations that may occur to you to be of service; but
if you mean to cast imputations of obloquy upon the law officers of
the crown, the court cannot permit that."

Mr. O'Doherty--"I only wish to mention a matter of fact. The
Attorney-General stated that there were only three Roman Catholics
set aside on my jury."

Judge Crampton again interposed, and requested the prisoner not to
pursue this line of observation.

Mr. O'Doherty.--"I would feel much obliged if your lordship would
permit me to mention a few more words with reference to my motives
throughout this affair.

"I had but one object and purpose in view. I did feel deeply for the
sufferings and privations endured by my fellow-countrymen. I did wish
by all means, consistent with a manly and honourable resistance to
assist in putting an end to that suffering. It is very true, and I
will confess it, that I desired an open resistance of the people to
that government, which, in my opinion entailed these sufferings upon
them. I have used the words open and honourable resistance, in order
that I might refer to one of the articles brought in evidence against
me, in which the writer suggests such things as flinging burning
hoops on the soldiery. My lords, these are no sentiments of mine. I
did not write that article. I did not see it, or know of it until I
read it when published in the paper. But I did not bring the writer
of it here on the table. Why? I knew that if I were to do so, it
would be only handing him over at the court-house doors to what one
of the witnesses has very properly called the fangs of the
Attorney-General. With respect to myself I have no fears. I trust I
will be enabled to bear my sentence with all the forbearance due to
what I believe to be the opinion of twelve conscientious enemies to
me, and I will bear with due patience the wrath of the government
whose mouthpiece they were; but I will never cease to deplore the
destiny that gave me birth in this unhappy country, and compelled me,
as an Irishman, to receive at your hands a felon's doom, for
discharging what I conceived--and what I still conceive to be my
duty. I shall only add, that the fact is, that instead of three Roman
Catholic jurors being set aside by the Attorney-General, there were
thirteen; I hold in my hand a list of their names, and out of the
twelve jurors he permitted to be sworn there was not one Roman

Mr. O'Doherty was sentenced to transportation for ten years. He sailed
for Van Dieman's Land in the same ship that bore John Martin into exile.
In the course of time he, like Martin and O'Brien, was set at liberty on
condition of his residing anywhere out of "the United Kingdom." He came
on to Paris, and there resumed his medical studies. He paid, however,
one secret and hurried visit to Ireland. He came to wed and bear away
with him, to share his fortune in other lands, a woman in every way
worthy of him--one whose genius and talents, like his own, had been
freely given to the cause of Ireland, and whose heart had long been his
in the bonds of a most tender attachment. "Eva," one of the fair
poetesses of the _Nation_, was the plighted wife of O'Doherty. Terrible
must have been the shock to her gentle nature when her patriot lover was
borne off a convict, and shipped for England's penal settlements in the
far southern seas. She believed, however, they would meet again, and she
knew that neither time nor distance could chill the ardour of their
mutual affection. The volumes of the _Nation_ published during his
captivity contain many exquisite lyrics from her pen mourning for the
absent one, with others expressive of unchanging affection, and the most
intense faith in the truth of her distant lover. "The course of true
love" in this case ended happily. O'Doherty, as we have stated, managed
to slip across from Paris to Ireland, and returned with "Eva" his bride.
In 1856 the pardons granted to the exiles above named was made
unconditional, and in the following year O'Doherty returned to Ireland,
where he took out his degrees with great _eclat_; he then commenced the
practice of medicine and surgery in Dublin, and soon came to be ranked
amongst the most distinguished and successful members of his profession.
After remaining some years in Ireland, Mr. O'Doherty sailed far away
seawards once again, and took up his abode under the light of the
Southern Cross. He settled in a rising colony of Australia, where he
still lives, surrounded by troops of friends, and enjoying the position
to which his talents and his high character entitle him.

* * * * *


The excitement caused by the startling events of which this country was
the scene in the summer of 1848 extended far beyond the shores of
Ireland. Away beyond the Atlantic the news from Ireland was watched for
with glistening eyes by the exiles who dwelt by the shores of Manhattan
or in the backwoods of Canada. Amongst the Irish colony in England the
agitation was still greater. Dwelling in the hearts of the monster towns
of England, the glow of the furnace lighting up their swarthy faces;
toiling on the canals, on the railways, in the steamboats; filling the
factories, plying their brawny hands where the hardest work was to be
done; hewers of wood, and drawers of water; living in the midst of the
English, yet separated from them by all the marks of a distinctive
nationality, by antagonistic feelings, by clashing interests, by jarring
creeds; such was the position of the men who carried the faith, the
traditions, the politics, and the purpose of Ireland into the heart of
the enemy's country. With their countrymen at home they were united by
the warmest ties of sympathy and affection. In London, in Manchester, in
Birmingham, in Leeds, Confederate Clubs were established, and active
measures taken for co-operating with the Young Ireland leaders in
whatever course they might think proper to adopt. In Liverpool those
clubs were organized on the most extensive scale; thousands of Irishmen
attended their weekly meetings, and speeches rivalling those delivered
at the Rotundo and at the Music Hall in fervour and earnestness were
spoken from their platforms. Amongst the Irishmen who figured
prominently at these gatherings there was one to whom the Irish in
Liverpool looked up with peculiar confidence and pride. He was young, he
was accomplished, he was wealthy, he filled a highly respectable
position in society; his name was connected by everyone with probity and
honour; and, above all, he was a nationalist, unselfish, enthusiastic,
and ardent. The Irishmen of Liverpool will not need to be told that we
speak of Terence Bellew M'Manus.

The agitation of 1848 found M'Manus in good business as a shipping
agent, his income being estimated by his Liverpool friends at ten or
twelve hundred a year. His patriotism was of too genuine a nature to be
merged in his commercial success, and M'Manus readily abandoned his
prospects and his position when his country seemed to require the
sacrifice. Instantly on discovering that the government were about to
suspend the _Habeas Corpus_ Act in Ireland, he took the steamer for
Dublin, bringing with him the green and gold uniform which he owned in
virtue of being a general of the '82 Club. In the same steamer came two
detectives sent specially to secure his arrest in Dublin. M'Manus drove
from the quay, where he landed, to the _Felon_ Office. He discovered
that all the Confederate leaders out of prison had gone southwards on
hostile thoughts intent; and M'Manus resolved on joining them without a
moment's hesitation. Having managed to give the detectives the slip, he
journeyed southwards to Tipperary and joined O'Brien's party at
Killenaule. He shared the fortunes of the insurgent leaders until the
dispersion at Ballingarry, where he fought with conspicuous bravery and
determination. He was the first to arrive before the house in which the
police took refuge, and the last to leave it. The Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald,
P.P., an eye witness, gives an interesting account of M'Manus' conduct
during the attack on the Widow M'Cormack's house. He says:--

"With about a dozen men more determined than the rest, was M'Manus,
who indeed throughout the whole day showed more courage and
resolution than anyone else. With a musket in his hand, and in the
face of the enemy, he reconnoitered the place, and observed every
accessible approach to the house, and with a few colliers, under
cover of a cart-load of hay, which they pushed on before them, came
up to the postern-door of the kitchen. Here with his own hand he
fired several pistol-shots, to make it ignite, but from the state of
the weather, which was damp and heavy, and from the constant
down-pour of rain on the previous day, this attempt proved quite
unsuccessful. With men so expert at the use of the pickaxe, and so
large a supply of blasting powder at the collieries, he could have
quickly undermined the house, or blown it up; but the circumstance of
so many children being shut in with the police, and the certainty
that, if they persevered, all would be involved in the same ruin,
compelled him and his associates to desist from their purpose."

When it became useless to offer further resistance, M'Manus retired with
the peasantry to the hills, and dwelt with them for several days. Having
shaved off his whiskers, and made some other changes in his appearance,
he succeeded in running the gauntlet though the host of spies and
detectives on his trail, and he was actually on board a large vessel on
the point of sailing for America from Cork harbour when arrested by the
police. His discovery was purely accidental; the police boarded the
vessel in chase of an absconding defaulter, but while prosecuting the
search one of the constables who had seen M'Manus occasionally in
Liverpool recognised him. At first he gave his name as O'Donnell, said
he was an Irish-American returning westward, after visiting his friends
in the old land. His answers, however, were not sufficiently consistent
to dissipate the constable's suspicion. He was brought ashore and taken
handcuffed before a magistrate, whereupon he avowed his name, and boldly
added that, he did not regret any act he had done, and would cheerfully
go through it again.

On the 10th of October, 1848, he was brought to trial for high treason
in Clonmel. He viewed the whole proceedings with calm indifference, and
when the verdict of guilty was brought in he heard the announcement with
unaltered mien. A fortnight later he was brought up to receive sentence;
Meagher and O'Donoghue had been convicted in the interim, and the three
confederates stood side by side in the dock to hear the doom of the
traitor pronounced against them. M'Manus was the first to speak in reply
to the usual formality, and his address was as follows:--

"My lords--I trust I am enough of a Christian and enough of a man to
understand the awful responsibility of the question which has been
put to me. Standing upon my native soil--standing in an Irish court
of justice, and before the Irish nation--I have much to say why the
sentence of death, or the sentence of the law, should not be passed
upon me. But upon entering into this court I placed my life--and what
is of more importance to me, my honour--in the hands of two
advocates, and if I had ten thousand lives and ten thousand honours,
I should be content to place them all in the watchful and glorious
genius of the one, and the patient zeal and talent of the other. I
am, therefore, content, and with regard to that I have nothing to
say. But I have a word to say, which no advocate, however anxious
and devoted he may be, can utter for me. I say, whatever part I may
have taken in the straggle for my country's independence, whatever
part I may have acted in my short career, I stand before you, my
lords, with a free heart and a light conscience, to abide the issue
of your sentence. And now, my lords, this is, perhaps, the fittest
time to put a sentence upon record, which is this--that standing in
this dock, and called to ascend the scaffold--it may be to-morrow--it
may be now--it may be never--whatever the result may be, I wish to
put this on record, that in the part I have taken I was not actuated
by enmity towards Englishmen--for among them I have passed some of
the happiest days of my life, and the most prosperous; and in no part
which I have taken was I actuated by enmity towards Englishmen
individually, whatever I may have felt of the injustice of English
rule in this island; I therefore say, that it is not because I loved
England less, but because I loved Ireland more, that I now stand
before you."

In 1851, M'Manus escaped from captivity in Van Dieman's Land, and he
soon after settled in California where he died. His funeral was the
greatest ever witnessed upon earth. From the shores of the Pacific
thousands of miles away, across continents and oceans they brought him,
and laid his ashes to rest in the land of his birth. On the 10th day of
November, 1861, that wonderful funeral passed through the streets of
Dublin to Glasnevin, and those who saw the gathering that followed his
coffin to the grave, the thousands of stalwart men that marched in
solemn order behind his bier will never forget the sight. A silent slab
unlettered and unmarked shows the spot where his remains were interred;
no storied urn or animated bust, no marble column or commemorative
tablet has been consecrated to his memory, but the history of his life
is graven in the hearts of his countrymen, and he enjoys in their
affectionate remembrance, a monument more enduring than human hands
could build him.

* * * * *


Looking along the course of Irish history, it is easy to point out
certain periods in which England could have found an opportunity for
making terms with the Irish nation, healing some of the old wounds and
mitigating in some degree the burning sense of wrong and the desire of
vengeance that rankled in the hearts of the Irish race. There were lulls
in the struggle, intervals of gloomy calm, occasions when the heart of
Ireland might have been touched by generous deeds, and when the offer of
the olive branch, or even a few of its leaves, would have had a blessed
effect. But England never availed of them--never for an instant sought
to turn them to good account. She preferred when Ireland was defeated,
prostrate, and forlorn, to taunt her with her failure, scoff at her
sufferings, and add to her afflictions. Such was her conduct during the
mournful time that followed on the attempted insurrection of 1848.

It was an appaling time, in whose death-laden atmosphere political
action was impossible. The famine had made of the country one huge
graveyard. A silence fell upon the land, lately so clamorous for her
rights, so hopeful, and so defiant. The Repeal organization spoke no
more; the tramp of the Confederate Clubs was no longer heard in the
streets; O'Connell was dead; the Young Ireland leaders were fugitives or
prisoners; and the people were almost bewildered by a sense of their
great calamity. Then, if England had stooped to raise her fallen foe,
offered her some kindly treatment, and spoken some gracious words, the
bitterness of the old quarrel might have been in some degree assuaged,
even though its cause should not be entirely obliterated. But England
did not choose to take that politic and Christian course. She found it
much pleasanter to chuckle over the discomfiture of the Irish patriots,
to ridicule the failure of their peaceable agitation, to sneer at their
poor effort in arms, to nickname, and misrepresent, and libel the
brave-hearted gentleman who led that unlucky endeavour; and above all to
felicitate herself on the reduction that had taken place in the Irish
population. That--from her point of view--was the glorious part of the
whole affair. The Irish were "gone with a vengeance!"--not all of them,
but a goodly proportion, and others were going off every day. Emigrant
ships clustered in the chief ports, and many sought their living
freights in those capacious harbours along the Atlantic coast which
nature seemed to have shaped for the accommodation of a great commerce,
but where the visit of any craft larger than a fishing smack was a rare
event. The flaming placards of the various shipping-lines were posted in
every town in Ireland,--on the chapel-gates, and the shutters of closed
shops, and the doors of tenantless houses; and there appeared to be in
progress a regular breaking up of the Irish nation. This, to the English
mind, was positively delightful. For here was the Irish question being
settled at last, by the simple process of the transference of the Irish
people to the bottom of the deep sea, or else to the continent of
America--nearly the same thing as far as England was concerned, for in
neither place--as it seemed to her--could they ever more trouble her
peace, or have any claim on those fruits of the Irish soil which were
needed for the stomachs of Englishmen. There they could no longer pester
her with petitions for Tenant Right, or demands for a Repeal of the
Union. English farmers, and drovers, and labourers, loyal to the English
government, and yielding no sort of allegiance to the Pope, would cross
the Channel and take possession of the deserted island, which would
thenceforth be England's in such a sense as it never was before. O
magnificent consummation! O most brilliant prospect, in the eyes of
English statesmen! They saw their way clear, they understood their game;
it was to lighten in no degree the pressure which they maintained upon
the lives of the Irish people, to do nothing that could tend to render
existence tolerable to them in Ireland, or check the rush of emigration.
Acting in conformity with this shallow and false estimate of the
situation, they allowed to drift away unused the time which wise
statesmen would have employed in the effectuation of conciliatory and
tranquilising measures, and applied themselves simply to the crushing
out from the Irish mind of every hope of improved legislation, and the
defeat of every effort to obtain it. Thus when the people--waking up
from the stupefaction that followed on the most tragic period of the
famine--began to breathe the breath of political life again, and,
perceiving the danger that menaced the existence of the peasant classes,
set on foot an agitation to procure a reform of the land-laws, the
government resolutely opposed the project; defeated the bills which the
friends of the tenantry brought into parliament; and took steps, which
proved only too successful, for the break up of the organization by
which the movement was conducted. And then, when Frederick Lucas was
dead, and Mr. Duffy had gone into exile, and the patriot priests were
debarred from taking part in politics, and Messrs. John Sadlier and
William Keogh were bought over by bribes of place and pay, the
government appeared to think that Irish patriotism had fought in its
last ditch, and received its final defeat.

But they were mistaken. The old cause that had survived so many
disasters was not dead yet. While the efforts of the Tenant Righters in
Ireland were being foiled, and their party was being scattered, a couple
of Irishmen, temporarily resident in Paris, fugitive because of their
connexion with the events of '48, were laying the foundations of a
movement more profoundly dangerous to England, than any of those with
which she had grappled since the days of Wolfe Tone and Lord Edward
Fitzgerald. Those men were John O'Mahony and James Stephens.

Since then their names have been much heard of, and the organization of
which they were the originators has played an important part in Irish
history. But at the period of which we are now writing, the general
public knew nothing of O'Mahony or of Stephens beyond the fact that they
were alleged to have taken some part in the recent insurrectionary
demonstrations. Stephens, who was then a very young lad, had been
present at the Ballingarry attack, and had been severely wounded by the
fire of the police. He managed to crawl away from the spot to a ditch
side, where he was lost sight of. A report of his death was put into
circulation, and a loyal journal published in Kilkenny--the native town
of the young rebel, who in this instance played his first trick on the
government--referred to his supposed decease in terms which showed that
the rule _de mortuis nil nisi bonum_ found acceptance with the editor.
The following are the words of the obituary notice which appeared in the
_Kilkenny Moderator_ on or about the 19th of August, 1848:--

"Poor James Stephens, who followed Smith O'Brien to the field, has
died of the wound which he received at Ballingarry whilst acting as
aide-de-camp to the insurgent leader. Mr. Stephens was a very
amiable, and apart from politics, most inoffensive young man,
possessed of a great deal of talent, and we believe he was a most
excellent son and brother. His untimely and melancholy fate will be
much regretted by a numerous circle of friends."

It is said that his family very prudently fostered this delusion by
going into mourning for the loss of young James--the suggestion of which
clever ruse probably came from the dear boy himself. A short time
afterwards he managed to escape, disguised as a lady's maid, to France.
As one may gather from the paragraph above quoted, the family were much
respected in the locality. Mr. Stephens, father of the future C.O.I.R.,
was clerk in the establishment of a respectable auctioneer and
bookseller in Kilkenny. He gave his children a good education, and sent
young James to a Catholic seminary with a view to his being taught and
trained for the priesthood. But circumstances prevented the realization
of this design, and before any line of business could be marked out for
young Stephens, the political events above referred to took place and
shaped his future career.

John O'Mahony was a different stamp of man. He belonged to the class
known as gentlemen-farmers, and of that class he was one of the most
respected. His family owned a considerable tract of land in the southern
part of the County of Tipperary, of which they had been occupants for
many generations. He was well educated, of studious habits, and
thoroughly imbued with patriotic feeling, which came to him as a
hereditary possession. When the Young Ireland leaders were electrifying
the country by their spirited appeals to the patriotism and bravery of
the Irish race, and the population in all the chief centres of
intelligence were crystalizing into semi-military organizations,
O'Mahony was not apathetic or inactive. One of the strongest of the
Confederate clubs--which were thick sown in the contiguous districts of
the Counties of Cork, Waterford, and Tipperary--was under his
presidency; and when in July, 1848, the leaders of the movement
scattered themselves over the country for the purpose of ascertaining
the degree of support they would receive if they should decide on
unfurling the green banner, his report of the state of affairs in his
district was one of their most cheering encouragements.

A few days afterwards the outbreak under O'Brien occurred at
Ballingarry. The failure of that attempt, and the irresolute manner in
which it was conducted, had disheartened the country, but the idea of
allowing the struggle to rest at that point was not universally
entertained by the leaders of the clubs; and John O'Mahony was one of
those who resolved that another attempt should be made to rally the
people to the insurrectionary standard. He acted up to his resolution.
On the night of the 12th of September there were signal-fires on the
slopes of Slievenamon and the Comeragh mountains, and the district
between Carrick-on-Suir and Callan was in a state of perturbation. Next
day the alarm was spread in all directions. The gentry of the disturbed
districts rushed into the nearest towns for protection; police from the
outlying barracks were called in to reinforce the threatened stations,
and troops were hastily summoned from Dublin and the neighbouring
garrisons. Meanwhile parties of the insurgents began to move about. One
proceeded to the police station at the Slate-quarries, and finding it
deserted--the policemen having retired on Piltown--burned it to the
ground. Another attempted the destruction of Grany bridge, to delay the
advance of the soldiery. A third proceeded to attack the Glenbower
station. The defenders of the barracks were in a rather critical
position when another party of police, on their way from the
Nine-Mile-House station to Carrick, came upon the spot, and the combined
force speedily put their half-armed assailants to flight, with a loss to
the latter of one man severely wounded and one killed. An attack was
made on the barrack at Portlaw, but with a like result; two men were
stricken dead by the bullets of the police. The people soon afterwards
scattered to their homes, and the soldiery and police had nothing to do
but hunt up for the leaders and other parties implicated in the
movement. John O'Mahony narrowly escaped capture on three or four
occasions. He lingered in the country, however, until after the
conviction of the state prisoners at Clonmel, when it became clear to
him that the cause was lost for a time; and he then took his way to
Paris, whither several of his fellow outlaws, for whose arrest the
government had offered large rewards, had gone before him.

In that famous centre of intellect and of intrigue, the focus of
political thought, the fountain-head of great ideas, John O'Mahony and
James Stephens pondered long over the defeat that had come upon the
Irish cause, and in their ponderings bethought them that the reason of
the failure which they deplored was to be found in the want of that
quiet, earnest, secret preparation, by means of which the Continental
revolutionists were able to produce from time to time such volcanic
effects in European politics, and cause the most firmly-rooted dynasties
to tremble for their positions. The system of secret conspiracy--that
ancient system, "old as the universe, yet not outworn"--a system not
unknown in Ireland from the days of the Attacots to those of the
Whiteboys--the system of Sir Phelim O'Neill and of Theobald Wolfe
Tone--that system, as developed, refined, and elaborated by the most
subtle intellects of modern times, those two men proposed to propagate
among the Irish race at home and abroad. They divided the labour between
them. O'Mahony took the United States of America for his field of
action, and Stephens took the Old Country.

It was in the year 1858 that the first symptoms indicative of the work
to which James Stephens had set himself made their appearance in the
extreme south-west of Ireland. Whispers went about that some of the
young men of Kenmare, Bantry, and Skibbereen were enrolled in a secret
sworn organization, and were in the habit of meeting for the purpose of
training and drilling. Indeed the members of the new society took little
pains to conceal its existence; they seemed rather to find a pride in
the knowledge which their neighbours had of the fact, and relied for
their legal safety on certain precautions adopted in the manner of their
initiation as members. When informed firstly by well known nationalists
in a private manner, and subsequently by public remonstrances addressed
to them by Catholic clergymen and the national journals, that the
government were on their track, they refused to believe it; but ere long
they suffered grievously for their incredulity and want of prudence. In
the early days of December, 1858, the swoop of the government was made
on the members of the "Phoenix Society" in Cork and Kerry, and arrests
followed shortly after in other parts of the country. The trials in the
south commenced at Tralee in March, 1859, when a conviction was obtained
against a man named Daniel O'Sullivan, and he was sentenced to penal
servitude for ten years. The remaining cases were adjourned to the next
assizes, and when they came on in July, 1859, the prisoners put in a
plea of guilty, and were set at liberty on the understanding that if
their future conduct should not be satisfactory to the authorities, they
would be called up for sentence. Amongst the Cork prisoners who took
this course was Jeremiah O'Donovan (Rossa), whose name has since then
been made familiar to the public.

Those events were generally supposed to have extinguished the Phoenix
conspiracy. And many of Ireland's most sincere friends hoped that such
was the case. Recognising fully the peculiar powers which a secret
society can bring to bear against the government, they still felt a
profound conviction that the risks, or rather the certain cost of
liberty and life involved in such a mode of procedure, formed more than
a counterpoise for the advantages which it presented. They were
consequently earnest and emphatic in their endeavours to dissuade their
countrymen from treading in the dangerous paths in which their steps
were dogged by the spy and the informer. The Catholic clergy were
especially zealous in their condemnation of secret revolutionary
societies, urged thereto by a sense of their duty as priests and
patriots. But there were men connected with the movement both in America
and Ireland, who were resolved to persevere in their design of extending
the organization among the Irish people, despite of any amount of
opposition from any quarter whatsoever. In pursuit of that object they
were not over scrupulous as to the means they employed; they did not
hesitate to violate many an honourable principle, and to wrong many an
honest man; nor did they exhibit a fair share of common prudence in
dealing with the difficulties of their position; but unexpected
circumstances arose to favour their propagandism, and it went ahead
despite of all their mistakes and of every obstacle. One of those
circumstances was the outbreak of the civil war in America, which took
place in April, 1861. That event seemed to the leaders of the Irish
revolutionary organization, now known as the Fenian Brotherhood, to be
one of the most fortunate for their purposes that could have happened.
It inspired the whole population of America with military ardour, it
opened up a splendid school in which the Irish section of the people
could acquire a knowledge of the art of war, which was exactly what was
needed to give real efficacy to their endeavours for the overthrow of
British dominion in Ireland. Besides, there appeared to be a strong
probability that the line of action in favour of the Southern States
which England, notwithstanding her proclamation of neutrality, had
adopted from an early stage of the conflict, would speedily involve her
in a war with the Federal government. These things constituted a
prospect dazzling to the eyes of the Irishmen who had "gone with a
vengeance." Their hearts bounded with joy at the opportunities that
appeared to be opening on them. At last the time was near, they
believed, when the accumulated hate of seven centuries would burst upon
the power of England, not in the shape of an undisciplined peasantry
armed with pikes, and scythes, and pitchforks, as in 1798--not in the
shape of a half famished and empty-handed crowd, led to battle by
orators and poets, as in 1848, but in the shape of an army, bristling
with sharp steel, and flanked with thunderous cannon--an army skilled in
the modern science of war, directed by true military genius, and
inspired by that burning valour which in all times was one of the
qualities of the Irish race. Influenced by such hopes and feelings, the
Irish of the Northern States poured by thousands into the Federal ranks,
and formed themselves into regiments that were at the same time so many
Fenian circles. In the Southern army, too, there were many Irishmen who
were not less determined to give to their native land the benefit of
their military experience, as soon as the troubles of their adopted
country should be brought to an end. Fenianism, with that glow of light
upon it, spread like a prairie-fire through the States. The ranks of the
organization swelled rapidly, and money contributions poured like a tide
into its treasury. The impulse was felt also by the society in Ireland.
It received a rapid development, and soon began to put on a bold front
towards the government, and a still more belligerent one towards all
Irishmen who, while claiming the character of patriots, declined to take
part in the Fenian movement or recommend it to their countrymen. In
November, 1863, the brotherhood started the _Irish People_ newspaper in
Dublin, for the double purpose of propagating their doctrines and
increasing the revenues of the society. James Stephens was the author of
this most unfortunate project. The men whom he selected for working it
out were Thomas Clarke Luby, John O'Leary, and Charles Joseph Kickham.

From the date of its establishment up to the mouth of September, 1865--a
period of nearly two years--the _Irish People_ occupied itself in
preaching what its editors regarded as the cardinal doctrines of the
society, which were:--That constitutional agitation for the redress of
Ireland's grievances was worse than useless; that every man taking part
in such agitation was either a fool or a knave; that in political
affairs clergymen should be held of no more account than laymen; and
that the only hope for Ireland lay in an armed uprising of the people.
These doctrines were not quite new; not one of them was absolutely true;
but they were undoubtedly held by many thousands of Irishmen, and the
Fenian society took care to secure for the journal in which they were
advocated, a large circulation. The office of the _Irish People_ soon
came to be regarded as, what it really was, the head quarters of the
Fenian organization in Ireland. To it the choice spirits of the party
resorted for counsel and direction; thither the provincial organisers
directed their steps whenever they visited Dublin; into it poured weekly
from all parts of the country an immense mass of correspondence, which
the editors, instead of destroying after it had passed through their
hands, foolishly allowed to accumulate upon their shelves, though every
word of it was fraught with peril to the lives and liberties of their
friends. In their private residences also they were incautious enough to
keep numerous documents of a most compromising character. There is but
one way of accounting for their conduct in this matter. They may have
supposed that the legal proceedings against them, which they knew were
certain to take place at one time or another, would be conducted in the
semi-constitutional fashion which was adopted towards the national
journals in 1848. If the staff of the _Irish People_ had received a
single day's notice that they were about to be made amenable to the law,
it is possible that they would have their houses and their office
immediately cleared of those documents which afterwards consigned so
many of their countrymen to the horrors of penal servitude. But they saw
no reason to suppose that the swoop was about to be made on them. On the
fifteenth day of September, 1865, there were no perceptible indications
that the authorities were any more on the alert in reference to Fenian
affairs then they had been during the past twelve months. It was Friday;
the _Irish People_ had been printed for the next day's sale, large
batches of the paper had been sent off to the agents in town and
country, the editors and publishing clerks had gone home to rest after
their week's labours--when suddenly, at about half-past nine o'clock in
the evening, a strong force of police broke into the office, seized the
books, manuscripts, papers, and forms of type, and bore them off to the
Castle yard. At the same time arrests of the chief Fenian leaders were
being made in various parts of the city. The news created intense
excitement in all circles of society, and more especially amongst the
Fenians themselves, who had never dreamed of a government _coup_ so
sudden, so lawless, and so effective. The government had now thrown off
the mask of apathy and impassiveness which it had worn so long, and it
commenced to lay its strong hand upon its foes. Amongst the men who
filled the prison cells on that miserable autumn evening were John
O'Leary, Thomas Clarke Luby, and Jeremiah O'Donovan (Rossa). Before the
crown was ready to proceed with their trial, the third editor of the
paper, Charles J. Kickham, was added to their company, having been
arrested with James Stephens, Edward Duffy, and Hugh Brophy, on the 11th
November, at Fairfield House, near Dublin.

On Monday, November 27th, 1865, the state trials commenced before a
Special Commission in the Courthouse, Green-street--the scene of so many
a previous grapple between British law and the spirit of Irish
patriotism. Mr. Justice Keogh and Mr. Justice Fitzgerald were the
presiding judges. There was a long list of prisoners to be tried. James
Stephens might have been honoured with the first place amongst them,
were it not that two days previously, to the unspeakable horror and
surprise of the government and all its friends, he had effected his
escape, or rather, we might say, obtained, by the aid of friendly hands,
his release from Richmond prison. In his regretted absence, the crown
commenced their proceedings by placing Thomas Clarke Luby in the dock to
answer to a charge of treason-felony.

He stood up to the bar, between the jailors that clustered about him, a
quiet-faced, pale, and somewhat sad-looking man, apparently of about
forty years of age. A glance around the court-house showed him but few
friendly faces--for, owing to the terrors felt by the judges, the crown
prosecutors and other officials of the law, who dreaded the desperate
resolves of armed conspirators, few were admitted into the building
except policemen, detectives, and servants of the crown in one capacity
or another. In one of the galleries, however, he recognised his
wife--daughter of J. De Jean Fraser, one of the sweetest poets of the
'48 period--with the wife of his fellow-prisoner, O'Donovan Rossa, and
the sister of John O'Leary. A brief smile of greeting passed between the
party, and then all thoughts were concentrated on the stern business of
the day.

There was no chance of escape for Thomas Clarke Luby or for his
associates. The crown had a plethora of evidence against them, acquired
during the months and years when they appeared to be all but totally
ignorant of the existence of the conspiracy. They had the evidence of
the approver, Nagle, who had been an employe of the _Irish People_
office and a confidential agent of James Stephens up to the night of the
arrests, but who during the previous eighteen months had been betraying
every secret of theirs to the government. They had the evidence of a
whole army of detectives; but more crushing and fatal than all, they had
that which was supplied by the immense store of documents captured at
the _Irish People_ office and the houses of some of the chief members of
the conspiracy. Of all those papers the most important was one found at
the residence of Mr. Luby, in which James Stephens, being at the time
about to visit America delegated his powers over the organization in
Ireland, England, and Scotland to Thomas Clarke Luby, John O'Leary, and
Charles J. Kickham. This, which was referred to during the trials as the
"executive document," was worded as follows:--

"I hereby empower Thomas Clarke Luby, John O'Leary and Charles J.
Kickham a committee of organization, or executive, with the same
supreme control over the home organization, England, Ireland, and
Scotland, as that exercised by myself. I further empower them to
appoint a committee of military inspection, and a committee of appeal
and judgment, the functions of which committee will be made known to
every member of them. Trusting to the patriotism and abilities of the
executive, I fully endorse their actions beforehand. I call on every
man in our ranks to support and be guided by them in all that
concerns the military brotherhood.


Not all the legal ingenuity and forensic eloquence of their talented
counsel, Mr. Butt, could avail to save the men who, by the preservation
of such documents as the foregoing, had fastened the fetters on their
own limbs. The trial of Mr. Luby concluded on the fourth day of the
proceedings--Friday, December 1st 1865--with a verdict of guilty. The
prisoner heard the announcement with composure, and then, in response to
the question usual in such cases, addressed the court as follows:--

"Well, my lords and gentlemen, I don't think any person present here
is surprised at the verdict found against me. I have been prepared
for this verdict ever since I was arrested, although I thought it my
duty to fight the British government inch by inch. I felt I was sure
to be found guilty, since the advisers of the Crown took what the
Attorney-General was pleased the other day to call the 'merciful
course.' I thought I might have a fair chance of escaping, so long as
the capital charge was impending over me; but when they resolved on
trying me under the Treason-Felony Act, I felt that I had not the
smallest chance. I am somewhat embarrassed at the present moment as
to what I should say under the circumstances. There are a great many
things that I would wish to say; but knowing that there are other
persons in the same situation with myself, and that I might allow
myself to say something injudicious, which would peril their cases, I
feel that my tongue is to a great degree tied. Nothwithstanding,
there are two or three points upon which I would say a few words. I
have nothing to say to Judge Keogh's charge to the jury. He did not
take up any of the topics that had been introduced to prejudice the
case against me; for instance, he did not take this accusation of an
intention to assassinate, attributed to my fellow-prisoners and
myself. The Solicitor-General in his reply to Mr. Butt, referred to
those topics. Mr. Barry was the first person who advanced those
charges. I thought they were partially given up by the
Attorney-General in his opening statement, at least they were put
forward to you in a very modified form; but the learned
Solicitor-General, in his very virulent speech, put forward those
charges in a most aggravated manner. He sought even to exaggerate
upon Mr. Barry's original statement. Now, with respect to those
charges--in justice to my character--I must say that in this court,
there is not a man more incapable of anything like massacre or
assassination than I am. I really believe that the gentlemen who have
shown so much ability in persecuting me, in the bottom of their
hearts believe me incapable of an act of assassination or massacre. I
don't see that there is the smallest amount of evidence to show that
I ever entertained the notion of a massacre of landlords and priests.
I forget whether the advisers of the crown said I intended the
massacre of the Protestant clergymen. Some of the writers of our
enlightened press said that I did. Now, with respect to the charge of
assassinating the landlords, the only thing that gives even the
shadow of a colour to that charge is the letter signed--alleged to be
signed--by Mr. O'Keefe. Now, assuming--but by no means admitting, of
course--that the letter was written by Mr. O'Keefe, let me make a
statement about it. I know the facts that I am about to state are of
no practical utility to me now, at least with respect to the judges.
I know it is of no practical utility to me, because I cannot give
evidence on my own behalf, but it may be of practical utility to
others with whom I wish to stand well. I believe my words will carry
conviction--and carry much more conviction than any words of the
legal advisers of the crown can--to more than 300,000 of the Irish
race in Ireland, England, and America. Well, I deny absolutely, that
I ever entertained any idea of assassinating the landlords, and the
letter of Mr. O'Keefe--assuming it to be his letter--is the only
evidence on the subject. My acquaintance with Mr. O'Keefe was of the
slightest nature. I did not even know of his existence when the
_Irish People_ was started. He came, after that paper was established
a few months, to the office, and offered some articles--some were
rejected, some we inserted, and I call the attention of the legal
advisers of the Crown to this fact, that amongst the papers which
they got, those that were Mr. O'Keefe's articles had many paragraphs
scored out; in fact we put in no article of his without a great deal
of what is technically called 'cutting down.' Now, that letter of his
to me was simply a private document. It contained the mere private
views of the writer; and I pledge this to the court as a man of
honour--and I believe in spite of the position in which I stand,
amongst my countrymen I am believed to be a man of honour, and that
if my life depended on it, I would not speak falsely about the
thing--when I read that letter, and the first to whom I gave it was
my wife, I remember we read it with fits of laughter at its
ridiculous ideas. My wife at the moment said--'Had I not better burn
the letter?' 'Oh no,' I said, looking upon it as a most ridiculous
thing, and never dreaming for a moment that such a document would
ever turn up against me, and produce the unpleasant consequences it
has produced--mean the imputation of assassination and massacre,
which has given me a great deal more trouble than anything else in
this case. That disposes--as far as I can at present dispose of
it--of the charge of wishing to assassinate the landlords. As to the
charge of desiring to assassinate the priests, I deny it as being the
most monstrous thing in the world. Why, surely, every one who read
the articles in the paper would see that the plain doctrine laid
down there was--to reverence the priests so long as they confined
themselves to their sacerdotal functions; but when the priest
descended to the arena of politics he became no more than any other
man, and would just be regarded as any other man. If he was a man of
ability and honesty, of course he would get the respect that such men
get in politics--if he was not a man of ability there would be no
more thought of him than of a shoemaker or any one else. This is the
teaching of the _Irish People_ with regard to the priests. I believe
the _Irish People_ has done a great deal of good, even amongst those
who do not believe in its revolutionary doctrines. I believe the
revolutionary doctrines of the _Irish People_ are good. I believe
nothing can ever save Ireland except independence; and I believe that
all other attempts to ameliorate the condition of Ireland are mere
temporary expedients and make shifts----"

Mr. Justice Keogh--"I am very reluctant to interrupt you, Mr. Luby."

Mr. Luby--"Very well, my lord, I will leave that. I believe in this
way the _Irish People_ has done an immensity of good. It taught the
people not to give up their right of private judgment in temporal
matters to the clergy; that while they reverenced the clergy upon the
altar, they should not give up their consciences in secular matters
to the clergy. I believe that is good. Others may differ from me. No
set of men I believe ever set themselves earnestly to any work, but
they did good in some shape or form."

Judge Keogh--"I am most reluctant, Mr. Luby, to interrupt you, but do
you think you should pursue this!"

Mr. Luby--"Very well, I will not. I think that disposes of those
things. I don't care to say much about myself. It would be rather
beneath me. Perhaps some persons who know me would say I should not
have touched upon the assassination charge at all--that in fact I
have rather shown weakness in attaching so much importance to it.
But, with regard to the entire course of my life, and whether it be a
mistaken course or not will be for every man's individual judgment to
decide--this I know, that no man ever loved Ireland more than I have
done--no man has ever given up his whole being to Ireland to the
extent I have done. From the time I came to what has been called the
years of discretion, my entire thought has been devoted to Ireland. I
believed the course I pursued was right; others may take a different
view. I believe the majority of my countrymen this minute, if,
instead of my being tried before a petty jury, who, I suppose, are
bound to find according to British law--if my guilt or innocence was
to be tried by the higher standard of eternal right, and the case was
put to all my countrymen--I believe this moment the majority of my
countrymen would pronounce that I am not a criminal, but that I have
deserved well of my country. When the proceedings of this trial go
forth into the world, people will say the cause of Ireland is not to
be despaired of, that Ireland is not yet a lost country--that as long
as there are men in any country prepared to expose themselves to
every difficulty and danger in its service, prepared to brave
captivity, even death itself if need be, that country cannot be
lost. With these words I conclude."

On the conclusion of this address, Judge Keogh proceeded to pass
sentence on the prisoner. The prisoner's speech, he said, was in every
way creditable to him; but the bench could not avoid coming to the
conclusion that, with the exception of James Stephens, he was the person
most deeply implicated in the conspiracy. The sentence of the court was
that he be kept in penal servitude for a term of twenty years. Mr. Luby
heard the words without any apparent emotion--gave one sad farewell
glance to his wife and friends, and stepping down the little stairs from
the dock, made way for the next prisoner.

* * * * *


While the jury in the case of Thomas Clarke Luby were absent from the
court deliberating on and framing their verdict, John O'Leary was put
forward to the bar.

He stepped boldly to the front, with a flash of fire in his dark eyes,
and a scowl on his features, looking hatred and defiance on judges,
lawyers, jurymen, and all the rest of them. All eyes were fixed on him,
for he was one of those persons whose exterior attracts attention and
indicates a character above the common. He was tall, slightly built, and
of gentlemanly deportment; every feature of his thin angular face gave
token of great intellectual energy and determination, and its pallid hue
was rendered almost death-like by contrast with his long black hair and
flowing moustache and beard. Easy it was to see that when the government
placed John O'Leary in the dock they had caged a proud spirit, and an
able and resolute enemy. He had come of a patriot stock, and from a part
of Ireland where rebels to English rule were never either few or
faint-hearted. He was born in the town of Tipperary, of parents whose
circumstances were comfortable, and who, at the time of their decease,
left him in possession of property worth a couple of hundred pounds per
annum. He was educated for the medical profession in the Queen's
College, Cork, spent some time in France, and subsequently visited
America, where he made the acquaintance of the chief organisers of the
Fenian movement, by whom he was regarded as a most valuable acquisition
to the ranks of the brotherhood. After his return to Ireland he
continued to render the Fenian cause such services as lay in his power,
and when James Stephens, who knew his courage and ability, invited him
to take the post of chief editor of the Fenian organ which he was about
to establish in Dublin, O'Leary readily obeyed the call, and accepted
the dangerous position. In the columns of the _Irish People_ he laboured
hard to defend and extend the principles of the Fenian organization
until the date of his arrest and the suppression of the paper.

The trial lasted from Friday, the 1st, up to Wednesday, the 6th of
December, when it was closed with a verdict of guilty and a sentence of
twenty years' penal servitude--Mr. Justice Fitzgerald remarking that no
distinction in the degree of criminality could be discovered between the
case of the prisoner and that of the previous convict. The following is
the address delivered by O'Leary, who appeared to labour under much
excitement, when asked in the usual terms if he had any reason to show
why sentence should not be passed upon him:--

"I was not wholly unprepared for this verdict, because I felt that
the government which could so safely pack the bench could not fail to
make sure of its verdict."

Mr. Justice Fitzgerald--"We are willing to hear anything in reason
from you, but we cannot allow language of that kind to be used."

Mr. O'Leary--"My friend Mr. Luby did not wish to touch on this matter
from a natural fear lest he should do any harm to the other political
prisoners; but there can be but little fear of that now, for a jury
has been found to convict me of this conspiracy upon the evidence.
Mr. Luby admitted that he was technically guilty according to British
law; but I say that it is only by the most torturing interpretation
that these men could make out their case against me. With reference
to this conspiracy there has been much misapprehension in Ireland,
and serious misapprehension. Mr. Justice Keogh said in his charge
against Mr. Luby that men would be always found ready for money, or
for some other motive, to place themselves at the disposal of the
government; but I think the men who have been generally bought in
this way, and who certainly made the best of the bargain, were
agitators and not rebels. I have to say one word in reference to the
foul charge upon which that miserable man, Barry, has made me

Mr. Justice Fitzgerald--"We cannot allow that tone of observation."

Mr. O'Leary continued--"That man has charged me--I need not defend
myself or my friends from the charge. I shall merely denounce the
moral assassin. Mr. Justice Keogh the other day spoke of revolutions,
and administered a lecture to Mr. Luby. He spoke of cattle being
driven away, and of houses being burned down, that men would be
killed, and so on. I would like to know if all that does not apply to
war as well as to revolution? One word more, and I shall have done. I
have been found guilty of treason or treason-felony. Treason is a
foul crime. The poet Dante consigned traitors to, I believe, the
ninth circle of hell; but what kind of traitors? Traitors against
king, against country, against friends and benefactors. England is
not my country; I have betrayed no friend, no benefactor. Sidney and
Emmet were legal traitors, Jeffreys was a loyal man, and so was
Norbury. I leave the matter there."

One hour after the utterance of these words John O'Leary, dressed in
convict garb, his hair clipped, and his beard shaved off, was the
occupant of a cell in Mountjoy prison, commencing his long term of
suffering in expiation of the crime of having sought to obtain
self-government for his native land.

* * * * *


In one of the preceding pages we have mentioned the fact that at the
Cork Summer Assizes of 1859, a conviction was recorded against Jeremiah
O'Donovan (Rossa) for his complicity in the Phoenix conspiracy, and he
was then released on the understanding that if he should be found
engaging in similar practices, the crown would bring him up for
judgment. It is characteristic of the man that with this conviction
hanging like a mill-stone about his neck, he did not hesitate to take an
active and an open part with the promoters of the Fenian movement. He
travelled through various parts of Ireland in furtherance of the objects
of the society; he visited America on the same mission, and when the
_Irish People_ was started he took the position of business manager in
that foredoomed establishment.

He was brought into the dock immediately after John O'Leary had been
taken from it; but on representing that certain documents which he had
not then at hand were necessary for his defence, he obtained a
postponement of his trial for a few days. When he was again brought up
for trial he intimated to the court that he meant to conduct his own
defence. And he entered upon it immediately. He cross-examined the
informers in fierce fashion, he badgered the detectives, he questioned
the police, he debated with the crown lawyers, he argued with the
judges, he fought with the crown side all round. But it was when the
last of the witnesses had gone off the table that he set to the work in
good earnest. He took up the various publications that had been put in
evidence against him, and claimed his legal right to read them all
through. One of them was the file of the _Irish People_ for the whole
term of its existence! Horror sat upon the faces of judges, jurymen,
sheriffs, lawyers, turnkeys, and all, when the prisoner gravely informed
them that as a compromise he would not insist upon reading the
advertisements! The bench were unable to deny that the prisoner was
entitled to read, if not the entire, at any rate a great portion of the
volume, and O'Donovan then applied himself to the task, selecting his
readings more especially from those articles in which the political
career of Mr. Justice Keogh was made the subject of animadversion. Right
on he read, his lordship striving to look as composed and indifferent as
possible, while every word of the bitter satire and fierce invective
written against him by Luby and O'Leary was being launched at his heart.
When articles of that class were exhausted, the prisoner turned to the
most treasonable and seditious documents he could find, and commenced
the reading of them, but the judges interposed; he claimed to be allowed
to read a certain article--Judge Keogh objected--he proposed to read
another--that was objected to also--he commenced to read another--he was
stopped--he tried another--again Judge Keogh was down on him--then
another--and he fared no better. So the fight went on throughout the
live-long day, till the usual hour of adjournment had come and gone, and
the prisoner himself was feeling parched, and weary, and exhausted.
Observing that the lights were being now renewed, and that their
lordships appeared satisfied to sit out the night, he anxiously inquired
if the proceedings were not to be adjourned till morning. "Proceed,
sir," was the stern reply of the judge, who knew that the physical
powers of the prisoner could not hold out much longer. "A regular
Norbury," gasped O'Donovan. "It's like a '98 trial." "You had better
proceed, sir, with propriety," exclaimed the judge. "When do you propose
stopping, my lord?" again inquired the prisoner. "Proceed, sir," was the
reiterated reply. O'Donovan could stand it no longer. He had been
reading and speaking for eight hours and a half. With one final protest
against the arrangement by which Judge Keogh was sent to try the cases
of men who had written and published such articles against him, he sat
down, exclaiming that, "English law might now take its course."

Next day the jury handed down their verdict of guilty. The
Attorney-General then addressed the court, and referred to the previous
conviction against the prisoner. O'Donovan was asked, what he had to say
in reference to that part of the case? and his reply was that "the
government might add as much as they pleased to the term of his sentence
on that account, if it was any satisfaction to them." And when the like
question was put to him regarding the present charge, he said:--

"With the fact that the government seized papers connected with my
defence and examined them--with the fact that they packed the
jury--with the fact that the government stated they would
convict--with the fact that they sent Judge Keogh, a second Morbury,
to try me--with these facts before me, it would be useless to say

Judge Keogh proceeded to pass sentence. "The prisoner," he said, "had
entertained those criminal designs since the year 1859;" whereupon
O'Donovan broke in with the remark that he was "an Irishman since he was
born." The judge said, "he would not waste words by trying to bring him
to a sense of his guilt;" O'Donovan's reply was--"It would be useless
for you to try it." The judge told him his sentence was, that he be kept
in penal servitude for the term of his natural life. "All right, my
lord," exclaimed the unconquerable rebel, and with a smile to the
sympathising group around him, he walked with a light step from the

The court was then adjourned to the 5th of January. 1866; and next day
the judges set off for Cork city, to dispose of the Fenian prisoners
there awaiting trial.

* * * * *


On Wednesday, December 16th, the trial of O'Donovan (Rossa) was brought
to a conclusion in Dublin. Next morning, away went judges, crown
lawyers, spies, detectives, and informers for the good city of Cork,
where another batch of men accused of conspiring against British rule in
Ireland--"the old crime of their race"--were awaiting the pronouncement
of British law upon their several cases. Cork city in these days was
known to be one of the _foci_ of disaffection; perhaps it was its chief
stronghold. The Metropolis may have given an absolutely larger number of
members to the Fenian organization, but in proportion to the number of
its population the Southern city was far more deeply involved in the
movement. In Dublin, the seat of British rule in Ireland, many
influences which are but faintly represented in other parts of the
country, are present and active to repress the national ardour of the
people. Those influences are scarcely felt in the city of Saint Finbar.
Not in Ireland is there a town in which the national sentiment is
stronger or more widely diffused than in Cork. The citizens are a
warm-hearted, quick-witted and high-spirited race, gifted with fine
moral qualities, and profoundly attached to the national faith in
religion and politics. Merchants, traders, professional men,
shopkeepers, artizans, and all, are comparatively free from the spells
of Dublin Castle, and the result is visible in their conduct. The crown
looks dubiously and anxiously upon a Cork jury; the patriot, when any
work for Ireland is in hand, looks hopefully to the Cork people. The
leaders of the Fenian movement thoroughly understood these facts, and
devoted much of their time and attention to the propagation of their
society among men so well inclined to welcome it. Their labours, if
labours they could be called, were rewarded with a great measure of
success. The young men of Cork turned into the organization by hundreds.
There was no denying the fact; every one knew it; evidences of it were
to be seen on all sides. The hope that was filling their hearts revealed
itself in a thousand ways: in their marchings, their meetings, their
songs, their music. The loyal party in the neighbourhood grew alarmed,
and the government shared their apprehensions. At the time of which we
write, the opinion of the local magistracy and that of the authorities
at Dublin Castle was that Cork was a full-charged mine of "treason."

Thither was the Commission now sped, to carry terror, if the "strong arm
of the law" could do it, into the hearts of those conspirators "against
the royal name, style, and dignity" of her Majesty Queen Victoria. As no
one in the Castle could say to what desperate expedients those people
might have recourse, it was thought advisable to take extraordinary
precautions to ensure the safety of the train which carried those
important personages, her Majesty's judges, lawyers, witnesses and
informers, through the Munster counties and on to the city by the Lee.
"Never before" writes the special correspondent of the _Nation_, "had
such a sight been witnessed on an Irish railway as that presented on
Thursday along the line between Dublin and Cork. Armed sentries paced
each mile of the railway; the platforms of the various stations through
which the trains passed were lined with bodies of constabulary, and the
bridges and viaducts on the way were guarded by a force of military,
whose crimson coats and bright accoutrements stood out in bold relief
from the dark ground on which they were stationed, against the grey
December sky. As a further measure of precaution a pilot engine steamed
in advance of the train in which their lordships sat, one carriage of
which was filled with armed police. And so, in some such manner as Grant
or Sheridan might have journeyed along the Petersburgh and Lynchburg
railway while the flag of the Confederacy floated in Richmond, the two
judges travelled down in safety to the head-quarters of Fenianism in

Immediately on their arrival in Cork, the judges proceeded to the
court-house and formally opened the business of the Commission. Next day
Charles Underwood O'Connell and John M'Afferty were placed in the dock.
These two men belonged to a class which formed the hope of the Fenian
organization, and which the government regarded as one of the most
dangerous elements of the conspiracy. They were Irish-American soldiers,
trained to war, and inured to the hardships of campaigning in the great
struggle which had but recently closed in America. They were a sample of
the thousands of Irishmen who had acquired in that practical school the
military knowledge which they knew was needed for the efficient
direction of an insurrectionary movement in Ireland, and, who were now
burning for the time and opportunity to turn that knowledge to account.
It was known that many of these men were, as quietly and secretly as
might be, dropping into Queenstown as steamer after steamer arrived from
the Land of the West, and were moving about through the Southern
counties, inspiriting the hearts of the Brotherhood by their presence
and their promises, and imparting to them as much military instruction
as was possible under the circumstances. To hunt down these "foreign
emissaries" as the crown lawyers and the loyal prints were pleased to
call them, and to deter others from following in their footsteps, was
naturally a great object with the government, and when they placed
Charles Underwood O'Connell and John M'Afferty in the dock they felt
they had made a good beginning. And these were representative men in
their way. "It was a strange fate," says the writer from whom we have
already quoted, "which had brought these men together in a felon's dock.
They had been born in different lands--they had been reared thousands of
miles apart--and they had fought and won distinction under different
flags, and on opposing sides in the American war. M'Afferty, born of
Irish parents in Ohio, won his spurs in the Confederate army. O'Connell,
who emigrated from Cork little more than two years ago, after the ruin
of his family by a cruel act of confiscation and eviction, fought under
the Stars and Stripes, and, like M'Afferty, obtained a captain's
commission as the reward of his services. Had they crossed each others
path two years ago they would probably have fought _a la mort_, but the
old traditions which linger in spite of every circumstance in the hearts
of Irishmen were strong in both, and the cause of Ireland united them,
only alas, that they might each of them pay the cost of their honest, if
imprudent enthusiasm, by sharing the same prison in Ireland, and falling
within the grasp of the government which they looked on as the oppressor
of their fatherland."

M'Afferty however was not fated to suffer on that occasion. Proof of his
foreign birth having been adduced, the court held that his arrest on
board the steamer in Queenstown harbour, when he had committed no overt
act evidencing a treasonable intent, was illegal, and his trial was
abandoned. The trial of Underwood O'Connell was then postponed for a few
days, and two men reputed to be "centres" of the organization in Cork,
were brought to the bar.

They were Bryan Dillon and John Lynch. Physically, they presented a
contrast to the firm-built and wiry soldiers who had just quitted the
dock. Dillon was afflicted with curvature of the spine, the result of
an accident in early life, and his companion was far gone in that
blighting and fatal disease, consumption. But though they were not men
for the toils of campaigning, for the mountain march, and the bivouac,
and the thundering charge of battle, they had hearts full of enthusiasm
for the cause in which they were engaged, and heads that could think,


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