Speeches from the Dock, Part I

Part 4 out of 5

and plot, and plan, for its advancement.

We need not here go through the sad details of their trials. Our purpose
is to bring before our readers the courage and the constancy of the
martyrs to the cause of Irish nationality, and to record the words in
which they gave expression to the patriotic sentiments that inspired
them. It is, however, to be recollected that many of the accused at
these commissions--men as earnest, as honest, and as devoted to the
cause of their country as any that ever lived--made no such addresses
from the dock as we can include in this volume. All men are not orators,
and it will often occur that one who has been tried for life and liberty
in a British court of law, on the evidence of spies and informers, will
have much to press upon his mind, and many things more directly relevant
to the trial than any profession of political faith would be, to say
when called upon to show reason why sentence should not be passed upon
him. The evidence adduced in these cases is usually a compound of truth
and falsehood. Some of the untruths sworn to are simply blunders,
resulting from the confused impressions and the defective memory of the
witnesses, others are deliberate inventions, made, sworn to, backed up,
and persevered in for the purpose of insuring a successful result for
the prosecution. Naturally the first impulse of the accused, when he is
allowed to speak for himself, is to refer to these murderous falsehoods;
and in the excitement and trouble of those critical moments, it is all
that some men can venture to do. Such criticisms of the prosecution are
often valuable to the prisoner from a moral point of view, but rarely
have they any influence upon the result of the trial. All things
considered, it must be allowed that they act best who do not forget to
speak the words of patriotism, according to the measure of their
abilities, before the judge's fiat has sealed their lips, and the hand
of British law has swept them away to the dungeon or the scaffold.

"Guilty" was the verdict returned by the jury against Bryan Dillon and
John Lynch. The evidence against them indeed was strong, but its chief
strength lay in the swearing of an approver named Warner, a callous and
unscrupulous wretch, from whose mind the idea of conscience seemed to
have perished utterly. If there was any check upon the testimony of this
depraved creature, it existed only in some prudential instinct,
suggesting to him that even in such cases as these a witness might
possibly overdo his work, and perhaps in a caution or two given him in a
private and confidential manner by some of the managers of the
prosecution. Warner's evidence in this case was conclusive to the minds
of all who chose to believe it; and therefore it was that those
prisoners had not long been occupants of the dock when the question was
put to them what they had to say why sentence should not be passed on
them. In reply Bryan Dillon said:--

"My lords, I never was for one minute in Warner's company. What
Warner swore about me was totally untrue. I never was at a meeting at
Geary's house. The existence of the Fenian organization has been
proved sufficiently to your lordships. I was a centre in that
organization; but it does not follow that I had to take the chair at
any meeting, as it was a military organization. I do not want to
conceal anything. Warner had no connexion with me whatever. With
respect to the observation of the Attorney-General, which pained me
very much, that it was intended to seize property, it does not follow
because of my social station that I intended to seize the property of
others. My belief in the ultimate independence of Ireland is as fixed
as my religious belief--"

At this point he was interrupted by Judge Keogh, who declared he could
not listen to words that were, in fact, a repetition of the prisoner's
offence. But it was only words of this kind that Bryan Dillon cared to
say at the time; and as the privilege of offering some remarks in
defence of his political opinions--a privilege accorded to all prisoners
in trials for treason and treason-felony up to that time--had been
denied to him, he chose to say no more. And then the judge pronounced
the penalty of his offending, which was, penal servitude for a term of
ten years.

John Lynch's turn to speak came next. Interrogated in the usual form, he
stood forward, raised his feeble frame to its full height, and with a
proud, grave smile upon his pallid features, he thus addressed the

"I will say a very few words, my lords. I know it would be only a
waste of public time if I entered into any explanations of my
political opinions--opinions which I know are shared by the vast
majority of my fellow-countrymen. Standing here as I do will be to
them the surest proof of my sincerity and honesty. With reference to
the statement of Warner, all I have to say is, and I say it honestly
and solemnly, that I never attended a meeting at Geary's, that I
never exercised with a rifle there, that I never learned the use of
the rifle, nor did any of the other things he swore to. With respect
to my opinions on British rule in this country--"

Mr. Justice Keogh--"We can't hear that."

The Prisoner--"All I have to say is, that I was not at Geary's house
for four or five months before my arrest, so that Warner's statement
is untrue. If, having served my country honestly and sincerely be
treason, I am not ashamed of it. I am now prepared to receive any
punishment British law can inflict on me."

The punishment decreed to this pure-minded and brave-spirited patriot
was ten years of penal servitude. But to him it was practically a
sentence of death. The rigours and horrors of prison life were more than
his failing constitution could long endure; and but a few months from
the date of his conviction elapsed when his countrymen were pained by
the intelligence that the faithful-hearted John Lynch filled a nameless
grave in an English prison-yard. He died in the hospital of Woking
prison on the 2nd day of June, 1866.

When Bryan Dillon and John Lynch were removed from the dock (Tuesday,
December 19th), two men named Jeremiah Donovan and John Duggan were put
forward, the former charged with having been a centre in the Fenian
organization, and the latter with having sworn some soldiers into the
society. Both were found guilty. Donovan made no remarks when called
upon for what he had to say. Duggan contradicted the evidence of the
witnesses on several points, and said:--

"I do not state those things in order to change the sentence I am
about to receive. I know your lordships' minds are made up on that. I
state this merely to show what kind of tools the British government
employ to procure those convictions. I have only to say, and I appeal
to any intelligent man for his opinion, that the manner in which the
jury list was made out for these trials clearly shows that in this
country political trials are a mere mockery."

At this point the judge cut short the prisoner's address, and the two
men were sentenced, Donovan to five years and Duggan to ten years of
penal servitude.

The trial of Underwood O'Connell was then proceeded with. It concluded
on December 21st, with a verdict of guilty. In response to the question
which was then addressed to him he spoke at considerable length,
detailing the manner of his arrest, complaining of the horrible
indignities to which he had been subjected in prison, and asserting that
he had not received a fair and impartial trial. He spoke amidst a
running fire of interruptions from the court, and when he came to refer
to his political opinions his discourse was peremptorily suppressed.
"The sentiments and hopes that animate me," he said, "are well known."
"Really we will not hear those observations," interposed Mr. Justice
Keogh. "It has been brought forward here," said the prisoner, "that I
held a commission in the 99th regiment--in Colonel O'Mahony's regiment.
Proud as I am of having held a commission in the United States service,
I am equally proud of holding command under a man--." Here his speech
was stopped by the judges, and Mr. Justice Keogh proceeded to pass
sentence. In the course of his address his lordship made the following

"You, it appears, went to America; you entered yourself in the
American army, thus violating, to a certain extent, your allegiance
as a British subject. But that is not the offence you are charged
with here to-day. You say you swore allegiance to the American
Republic, but no man by so doing can relieve himself from his
allegiance to the British Crown. From the moment a man is born in
this country he owes allegiance, he is a subject."

Hearing these words, and remembering the great outcry that was being
made by the friends of the government against the Irish-American Fenians
on the ground that they were "foreigners," the prisoner interposed the
apt remark on his lordship's legal theory:--

"If that is so, why am I charged with bringing over foreigners--John
O'Mahony is no foreigner?"

To that remark Judge Keogh did not choose to make any reply. It
overturned him completely. Nothing could better exhibit the absurdity of
railing against those Irishmen as "foreigners" in one breath, and in the
next declaring their allegiance to the British Crown perpetual and
inalienable. His lordship may have winced as the point was so quickly
and neatly brought home to him; but at all events he went on with his
address and informed the prisoner that his punishment was to be ten
years of penal servitude. Upon which, the comment of the prisoner as he
quitted the dock, was that he hoped there would be an exchange of
prisoners before that time.

In quick succession four men named Casey, Began, Hayes, and Barry, were
tried, convicted, and sentenced. Each in turn impugned the evidence of
the informer Warner, protested against the constitution of the juries,
and attempted to say a few words declaratory of their devotion to the
cause of Ireland. But the judges were quick to suppress every attempt of
this kind, and only a few fragments of sentences are on record to
indicate the thoughts to which these soldiers of liberty would have
given expression if the opportunity had not been denied to them.

John Kennealy was the next occupant of the dock. He was a young man of
high personal character, and of great intelligence, and was a most
useful member of the organization, his calling--that of commercial
traveller--enabling him to act as agent and missionary of the Society
without attracting to himself the suspicion which would be aroused by
the movements of other men. In his case also the verdict was given in
the one fatal word. And when asked what he had to say for himself, his
reply was in these few forcible and dignified sentences:--

"My lord, it is scarcely necessary for me to say anything. I am sure
from the charge of your lordship, the jury could find no other
verdict than has been found. The verdict against me has been found by
the means by which political convictions have always been found in
this country. As to the informer, Warner, I have only to say that
directly or indirectly I never was in the same room with him, nor had
he any means of knowing my political opinions. As to my connexion
with Mr. Luby, I am proud of that connexion. I neither regret it, nor
anything else I have done, politically or otherwise."

On the conclusion of this trial, on Saturday, January 2nd, 1866, two
other cases were postponed without option of bail; some other persons
were allowed to stand out on sureties, and we read that "John McAfferty
and William Mackay, being aliens, were admitted to bail on their own
recognizance, and Judge Keogh said that if they left the country they
would not be required up for trial when called." We read also, in the
newspapers of that time, that "The prisoners McAfferty and Mackay when
leaving the courts were followed by large crowds who cheered them loudly
through the streets."

The Cork Commission was then formally closed, and next day the judges
set off to resume in Dublin the work of trying Irish conspirators
against the rule of England over their native land.

* * * * *


In the year 1825, in the village of Mullinahone, County. Tipperary,
Charles J. Kickham first saw the light. His father, John Kickham, was
proprietor of the chief drapery establishment in that place, and was
held in high esteem by the whole country round about for his integrity,
intelligence, and patriotic spirit. During the boyhood of young Kickham
the Repeal agitation was at its height, and he soon became thoroughly
versed in its arguments, and inspired by its principles, which he often
heard discussed in his father's shop and by his hearth, and amongst all
his friends and acquaintances. Like all the young people of the time,
and a great many of the old ones, his sympathies went with the Young
Ireland party at the time of their withdrawal from the Repeal ranks. In
1848 he was the leading spirit of the Confederation Club at Mullinahone,
which he was mainly instrumental in founding; and after the _fiasco_ at
Ballingarry he was obliged to conceal himself for some time, in
consequence of the part he had taken in rousing the people of his native
village to action. When the excitement of that period had subsided, he
again appeared in his father's house, resumed his accustomed sports of
fishing and fowling, and devoted much of his time to literary pursuits,
for which he had great natural capacity, and towards which he was all
the more inclined because of the blight put upon his social powers by an
unfortunate accident which occurred to him when about the age of
thirteen years. He had brought a flask of powder near the fire, and was
engaged either in the operation of drying it or casting some grains into
the coals for amusement, when the whole quantity exploded. The shock and
the injuries he sustained nearly proved fatal to him; when he recovered,
it was with his hearing nearly quite destroyed, and his sight
permanently impaired. But Kickham had the poet's soul within him, and it
was his compensation for the losses he had sustained. He could still
hold communion with nature and with his own mind, and could give to the
national cause the service of a bold heart and a finely-cultivated
intellect. Subsequent to the decadence of the '48 movement he wrote a
good deal in prose and verse, and contributed gratuitously to various
national publications. His intimate acquaintance with the character and
habits of the peasantry gave a great charm to his stories and sketches
of rural life; and his poems were always marked by grace, simplicity,
and tenderness. Many of them have attained a large degree of popularity
amongst his countrymen in Ireland and elsewhere, and taken a permanent
place in the poetic literature of the Irish race. Amongst these, his
ballads entitled "Patrick Sheehan," "Rory of the Hill," and "The Irish
Peasant Girl" are deserving of special mention. To these remarks it
remains to be added that as regards personal character, Charles J.
Kickham was one of the most amiable of men. He was generous and kindly
by nature, and was a pious member of the Catholic Church, to which his
family had given priests and nuns.

Such was the man whom the myrmidons of the law placed in the dock of
Green-street court-house, when on January 5th, 1866, after the return of
the judges from Cork, the Commission was re-opened in Dublin. His
appearance was somewhat peculiar. He was a tall, strong, rough-bearded
man, with that strained expression of face which is often worn by people
of dim sight. Around his neck he wore an india-rubber tube, or ear
trumpet, through which any words that were necessary to be addressed to
him were shouted into his ear by some of his friends, or by his
solicitor. His trial did not occupy much time, for on the refusal of the
crown lawyers and judges to produce the convict Thomas Clarke Luby, whom
he conceived to be a material witness for his defence, he directed his
lawyers to abandon the case, and contented himself with reading to the
court some remarks on the evidence which had been offered against him.
The chief feature in this address was his denial of all knowledge of the
"executive document." He had never seen or heard of it until it turned
up in connexion with those trials. Referring to one of the articles with
the authorship of which he was charged, he said he wondered how any
Irishman, taking into consideration what had occurred in Ireland during
the last eighty-four years, could hesitate to say to the enemy--"Give us
our country to ourselves and let us see what we can do with it."
Alluding to a report that the government contemplated making some
concession to the claims of the Catholic bishops, he remarked that
concessions to Ireland had always been a result of Fenianism in one
shape or another, and that he believed the present manifestation of the
national spirit would have weight, as former ones had, with the rulers
of the country. As regards the landed class in Ireland, the _Irish
People_, he contended, had said nothing more than was said by Thomas
Davis, whose works every one admired. That eminent Irishman, afflicted
and stung to the heart by witnessing the system of depopulation which
was going on throughout the country, had written these words:--

"God of Justice, I sighed, send your Spirit down
On those lords so cruel and proud,
And soften their hearts, and relax their frown,
Or else, I cried aloud,
Vouchsafe Thy strength to the peasant's hand
To drive them at length from out the land."

He had not gone farther than the writer of these lines, and now, he
said, they might send him to a felon's doom if they liked.

And they did send him to it. Judge Keogh, before passing sentence, asked
him if he had any further remarks to make in reference to his case. Mr.
Kickham briefly replied:--

"I believe, my lords, I have said enough already. I will only add
that I am convicted for doing nothing but my duty. I have endeavoured
to serve Ireland, and now I am prepared to suffer for Ireland."

Then the judge, with many expressions of sympathy for the prisoner, and
many compliments in reference to his intellectual attainments, sentenced
him to kept in penal servitude for fourteen years. His solicitor, Mr.
John Lawless, announced the fact to him through his ear trumpet. Charles
J. Kickham bowed to the judges, and with an expression of perfect
tranquility on his features, went into captivity.

[Illustration: GENERAL THOMAS F. BURKE.]

* * * * *


The year of grace, 1867, dawned upon a cloudy and troublous period in
Irish politics. There was danger brewing throughout the land; under the
crust of society the long confined lava of Fenianism effervesced and
glowed. There were strange rumours in the air; strange sounds were heard
at the death of night on the hill-sides and in the meadows; and through
the dim moonlight masses of men were seen in secluded spots moving in
regular bodies and practising military evolutions. From castle and
mansion and country seat the spectre of alarm glided to and fro,
whispering with bloodless lips of coming convulsions and slaughter, of
the opening of the crater of revolution, and of a war against property
and class. Symptoms of danger were everywhere seen and felt; the spirit
of disaffection had not been crushed; it rode on the night wind and
glistened against the rising sun; it filled rath and fort and crumbling
ruin with mysterious sounds; it was seen in the brightening eyes and the
bold demeanour of the peasantry; in the signals passing amongst the
people; in their secret gatherings and closely guarded conclaves. For
years and years Fenianism had been threatening, boasting, and promising,
and now the fury of the storm, long pent-up, was about to burst forth
over the land--the hour for action was at hand.

Between the conviction of Luby, O'Leary, and Kickham, and the period at
which we are now arrived, many changes of importance had taken place in
the Fenian organization. In America, the society had been
revolutionized--it had found new leaders, new principles, new plans of
action; it had passed through the ordeal of war, and held its ground
amidst flashing swords and the smoke of battle; it had survived the
shocks of division, disappointment, and failure; treachery, incapacity
and open hostility had failed to shatter it; and it grew apace in
strength, influence, and resources. At home Fenianism, while losing
little in numerical strength, had declined in effectiveness, in
prestige, in discipline, and in organization. Its leaders had been swept
into the prisons, and though men perhaps as resolute stepped forward to
fill the vacant places, there was a loss in point of capacity and
intelligence, and to the keen observer it became apparent that the
Fenian Society in Ireland had attained to the zenith of its power on the
day that the _Irish People_ office was sacked by the police. Never again
did the prospects of Fenianism, whatever they might then have been, look
equally bright; and when the brotherhood at length sprang to action,
they fought with a sword already broken to the hilt, and under
circumstances the most ominous and inauspicious.

The recent history of the Fenian movement is so thoroughly understood
that anything like a detailed account of its changes and progress is, in
these pages, unnecessary. We shall only say that when James Stephens
arrived in America in May, 1866, after escaping from Richmond Prison, he
found the society in the States split up into two opposing parties
between whom a violent quarrel was raging. John O'Mahony had been
deposed from his position of "Head Centre" by an all but unanimous vote
of the Senate, or governing body of the association, who charged him and
his officials with a reckless and corrupt expenditure of the society's
funds, and these in turn charged the Senate party with the crime of
breaking up the organization for mere personal and party purposes. A
large section of the society still adhered to O'Mahony, in consideration
of his past services in their cause; but the greater portion of it, and
nearly all its oldest, best-known and most trusted leaders gave their
allegiance to the Senate and to its elected President, William R.
Roberts, an Irish merchant of large means, of talent and energy, of high
character and unquestionable devotion to the cause of his country. Many
friends of the brotherhood hoped that James Stephens would seek to heal
the breach between these parties, but the course he took was not
calculated to effect that purpose. He denounced the "senators" in the
most extravagant terms, and invited both branches of the organization to
unite under himself as supreme and irresponsible leader and governor of
the entire movement. The O'Mahony section did not answer very heartily
to this invitation; the Senate party indignantly rejected it, and
commenced to occupy themselves with preparations for an immediate
grapple with British power in Canada. Those men were thoroughly in
earnest, and the fact became plain to every intelligence, when in the
latter part of May, 1866, the Fenian contingents from the various States
of the Union began to concentrate on the Canadian border. On the morning
of the 1st of June some hundreds of them crossed the Niagara river, and
took possession of the village of Fort Erie on the Canadian side. They
were soon confronted with detachments of the volunteer force which had
been collected to resist the invasion, and at Limestone Ridge they were
met by the "Queen's Own" regiment of volunteers from Toronto, under the
command of Colonel Booker. A smart battle ensued, the result of which
was that the "Queen's Own" were utterly routed by the Irish under
Colonel John O'Neill, and forced to run in wild confusion for a town
some miles distant, Colonel Booker on his charger leading the way and
distancing all competitors. Had the Irish been allowed to follow up this
victory it is not unlikely that they would have swept Canada clear of
the British forces, and then, according to their programme, made that
country their base of operations against British power in Ireland. But
the American government interfered and put an effectual stopper on their
progress; they seized the arms of the Irish soldiers on the frontier,
they sent up large parties of the States soldiery to prevent the
crossing of hostile parties into British territory, and stationed
war-vessels in the river for the same purpose. Reinforcements being thus
cut off from them, the victors of Limestone Ridge found themselves under
the necessity of re-crossing the river to the American shore, which they
did on the night of the 2nd of June, bringing with them the flags and
other trophies which they had captured from the royal troops.

The first brush between the Fenian forces and the Queen's troops
inspired the former with high hopes, and with great confidence in their
capacity to humble "the English red below the Irish green," if only they
could start on any thing like fair terms. But now that the American
government had forbidden the fight in Canada, what was to be done? James
Stephens answered that question. He would have a fight in Ireland--the
right place, he contended, in which to fight _for_ Ireland. The home
organization was subject to his control and would spring to arms at his
bidding. He would not only bid them fight, but would lead them to
battle, and that at no distant day. The few remaining months of 1866
would not pass away without witnessing the commencement of the struggle.
So he said, and so he swore in the most solemn manner at various public
meetings which he had called for the purpose of obtaining funds
wherewith to carry on the conflict. The prudence of thus publishing the
date which he had fixed for the outbreak of the insurrection was very
generally questioned, but however great might be his error in this
respect, many believed that he would endeavour to make good his words.
The British government believed it, and prepared for the threatened
rising by hurrying troops and munitions of war across to Ireland, and
putting the various forts and barracks in a state of thorough defence.
As the last days and nights of 1866 wore away, both the government and
the people expected every moment to hear the first crash of the
struggle. But it came not. The year 3867 came in and still all was
quiet. What had become of James Stephens? The astonished and irate
Fenians of New York investigated the matter, and found that he was
peacefully and very privately living at lodgings in some part of that
city, afraid to face the wrath of the men whom he had so egregiously
deceived. We need not describe the outburst of rage and indignation
which followed on the discovery; suffice it to say that the once popular
and powerful Fenian leader soon found it prudent to quit the United
States and take up his abode in a part of the world where there were no
Fenian circles and no settlements of the swarming Irish race.

Amongst the men who had rallied round James Stephens in America there
were many whose honesty was untainted, and who had responded to his call
with the full intention of committing themselves, without regard to
consequences, to the struggle which he promised to initiate. They
believed his representations respecting the prospects of an insurrection
in Ireland, and they pledged themselves to fight by his side and perish,
if necessary, in the good old cause, in defence of which their fathers
had bled. They scorned to violate their engagements; they spurned the
idea of shrinking from the difficulty they had pledged themselves to
face, and resolved that come what may the reproach of cowardice and bad
faith should never be uttered against them. Accordingly, in January,
'67, they began to fend in scattered parties at Queenstown, and spread
themselves through the country, taking every precaution to escape the
suspicion of the police. They set to work diligently and energetically
to organize an insurrectionary outbreak; they found innumerable
difficulties in their path; they found the people almost wholly unarmed;
they found the wisest of the Fenian leaders opposed to an immediate
outbreak, but still they persevered. How ably they performed their work
there is plenty of evidence to show, and if the Irish outbreak of '67
was short-lived and easily suppressed, it was far from contemptible in
the pre-concert and organization which it evidenced.

One hitch did occur in the accomplishment of their designs. On
Wednesday, February 13th, the exciting news was flashed throughout the
land that the Fenians had broken into insurrection at Kerry. The news
was true. The night of the 12th of February had been fixed for a
simultaneous rising of the Fenians in Ireland; but the outbreak had been
subsequently postponed, and emissaries were despatched to all parts of
the country with the intelligence of the change of date. The change of
date was everywhere learned in time to prevent premature action except
at Cahirciveen, in the west of Kerry, where the members of the
Brotherhood, acting upon the orders received, unearthed their arms, and
gaily proceeded towards Killarney to form a junction with the insurgents
whom they imagined had converged from various parts of the county in
that town. Before many hours had elapsed they discovered their
mistake--they heard before arriving at Killarney that they were the only
representatives of the Irish Republic that had appeared in the field,
and turning to the mountains they broke up and disappeared.

Short-lived as was their escapade, it filled the heart of England with
alarm. In hot haste the _Habeas Corpus_ Suspension Act, which had been
permitted to lapse a month before, was re-enacted; the arrests and
police raids was renewed, and from the Giant's Causeway to Cape Clear
the gaols were filled with political prisoners. Still the
Irish-Americans worked on; some of them were swept off to prison, but
the greater number of them managed to escape detection, and spite of the
vigilance of the authorities, and the extraordinary power possessed by
the government and its officials, they managed to carry on the business
of the organization, to mature their plans, and to perfect their
arrangements for the fray.

We do not propose to write here a detailed account of the last of the
outbreaks which, since the Anglo-Norman invasion, have periodically
convulsed our country. The time is not yet come when the whole history
of that extraordinary movement can be revealed, and such of its facts,
as are now available for publication, are fresh in the minds of our
readers. On the night of the 5th of March, the Fenian bands took the
field in Dublin, Louth, Tipperary, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, and Clare.
They were, in all cases, wretchedly armed, their plans had been betrayed
by unprincipled associates, and ruin tracked their venture from the
outset. They were everywhere confronted by well-armed, disciplined men,
and their reckless courage could not pluck success for the maze of
adverse circumstances that surrounded them. The elements, too,
befriended England as they had often done before. Hardly had the
insurgents left their homes when the clear March weather gave place to
the hail and snow of mid-winter. The howling storm, edged by the frost
and hail, swept over mountain and valley, rendering life in the open air
all but impossible to man. The weather in itself would have been
sufficient to dispose of the Fenian insurgents. Jaded and exhausted they
returned to their homes, and twenty-four hours after the flag of revolt
had been unfurled the Fenian insurrection was at an end.

Amongst the Irish officers who left America to share in the expected
battle for Irish rights, a conspicuous place must be assigned Thomas F.
Burke. He was born at Fethard, county Tipperary, on the 10th of
December, 1840, and twelve years later sailed away towards the setting
sun, his parents having resolved on seeking a home in the far West. In
New York, young Burke attended the seminary established by the late
Archbishop Hughes, where he received an excellent education, after which
he was brought up to his father's trade--that of house painter. For many
years he worked steadily at his trade, contributing largely to the
support of his family. The outbreak of the war, however, acted in the
same manner on Burke's temperament as on thousands of his
fellow-countrymen. He threw aside his peaceful avocation and joined the
Confederate army. He served under General Patrick Cleburne, who died in
his arms, and he fought side by side with the son of another
distinguished exile, John Mitchel. When the war had closed, he returned
a Brevet-General, northwards, with a shattered limb and an impaired
constitution. In June, 1865, he joined the Wolfe Tone Circle of the
Fenian Brotherhood in New York, and was appointed soon afterwards to act
as organizer in the Brotherhood for the district of Manhattan. He filled
this post with great satisfaction to his associates, and continued to
labour energetically in this capacity until his departure for Ireland,
at the close of 1866.

Tipperary was assigned to Burke as the scene of his revolutionary
labours in Ireland. He arrived in Clonmel early in February, where he
was arrested on suspicion, but was immediately discharged--his worn
appearance and physical infirmity giving strong corroboration of his
assertion, that he had come to Ireland for the benefit of his health. On
the night of the insurrection he placed himself at the head of the
Fenian party that assembled in the neighbourhood of Tipperary, but he
quickly saw the folly of attempting a revolution with the scanty band of
unarmed men that rallied round him. On the evening of the 6th his
followers were attacked by a detachment of soldiers at Ballyhurst Fort,
about three miles from Tipperary; Burke saw the uselessness of
resistance, and advised his followers to disperse--an injunction which
they appear to have obeyed. Burke himself was thrown from his horse and
captured. He was conveyed to the jail of Tipperary, and was brought to
trial in the Greenstreet court-house, in Dublin, on the 24th of April
following. He was convicted of high treason, and sentenced to death in
the usual form. The following speech delivered by him after conviction
is well worthy of a place in the Irish heart:--

"My lords--It is not my intention to occupy much of your time in
answering the question--what I have to say why sentence should not be
passed upon me? But I may, with your permission, review a little of
the evidence that has been brought against me. The first evidence
that I would speak of is that of Sub-Inspector Kelly, who had a
conversation with me in Clonmel. He states that he asked me either
how was my friend, or what about my friend, Mr. Stephens, and
that I made answer and said, that he was the most idolised man that
ever had been, or that ever would be in America. Here, standing on
the brink of my grave, and in the presence of the Almighty and
ever-living God, I brand that as being the foulest perjury that ever
man gave utterance to. In any conversation that occurred the name of
Stephens was not mentioned. I shall pass from that, and then touch on
the evidence of Brett. He states that I assisted in distributing the
bread to the parties in the fort, and that I stood with him in the
waggon or cart. This is also false. I was not in the fort at the
time; I was not there when the bread was distributed. I came in
afterwards. Both of these assertions have been made and submitted to
the men in whose hands my life rested, as evidence made on oath by
these men--made solely and purely for the purpose of giving my body
to an untimely grave. There are many points, my lords, that have been
sworn to here to prove my complicity in a great many acts it has been
alleged I took part in. It is not my desire now, my lords, to give
utterance to one word against the verdict which has been pronounced
upon me. But fully conscious of my honour as a man, which has never
been impugned, fully conscious that I can go into my grave with a
name and character unsullied, I can only say that these parties,
actuated by a desire either of their own aggrandisement, or to save
their paltry miserable lives, have pandered to the appetite, if I may
so speak, of justice, and my life shall pay the forfeit. Fully
convinced and satisfied of the righteousness of my every act in
connection with the late revolutionary movement in Ireland, I have
nothing to recall--nothing that I would not do again, nothing for
which I should feel the blush of shame mantling my brow; my conduct
and career, both here as a private citizen, and in America--if you
like--as a soldier, are before you; and even in this, my hour of
trial, I feel the consciousness of having lived an honest man, and I
will die proudly, believing that if I have given my life to give
freedom and liberty to the land of my birth, I have done only that
which every Irishman and every man whose soul throbs with a feeling
of liberty should do. I, my lords, shall scarcely--I feel I should
not at all--mention the name of Massey. I feel I should not pollute
my lips with the name of that traitor, whose illegitimacy has been
proved here--a man whose name even is not known, and who, I deny
point blank, ever wore the star of a colonel in the Confederate army.
Him I shall let rest. I shall pass him, wishing him, in the words of
the poet:--

"'May the grass wither from his feet;
The woods deny him shelter; earth a home;
The dust a grave; the sun his light:
And heaven its God!'

"Let Massey remember from this day forth that he carries with him, as
my able and eloquent counsel (Mr. Dowse) has stated, a serpent that
will gnaw his conscience, will carry about him in his breast a living
hell from which he can never be separated. I, my lords, have no
desire for the name of a martyr; I seek not the death of a martyr;
but if it is the will of the Almighty and Omnipotent God that my
devotion for the land of my birth shall be tested on the scaffold, I
am willing there to die in defence of the right of men to free
government--the right of an oppressed people to throw off the yoke of
thraldom. I am an Irishman by birth, an American by adoption; by
nature a lover of freedom--an enemy to the power that holds my native
land in the bonds of tyranny. It has so often been admitted that the
oppressed have a right to throw off the yoke of oppression, even by
English statesmen, that I do not deem it necessary to advert to the
fact in a British court of justice. Ireland's children are not, never
were, and never will be, willing or submissive slaves; and so long as
England's flag covers one inch of Irish soil, just so long will they
believe it to be a divine right to conspire, imagine, and devise
means to hurl it from power, and to erect in its stead the God-like
structure of self-government. I shall now, my lords, before I go any
further, perform one important duty to my learned, talented, and
eloquent counsel. I offer them that which is poor enough, the thanks,
the sincere and heartfelt thanks of an honest man. I offer them, too,
in the name of America, the thanks of the Irish people. I know that I
am here without a relative--without a friend--in fact, 3,000 miles
away from my family. But I know that I am not forgotten there. The
great and generous Irish heart of America to-day feels for me--to-day
sympathises with and does not forget the man who is willing to tread
the scaffold--aye, defiantly--proudly, conscious of no wrong--in
defence of American principles--in defence of liberty. To Messrs.
Butt, Dowse, O'Loghlen, and all the counsel for the prisoners, for
some of whom I believe Mr. Curran will appear, and my very able
solicitor, Mr. Lawless, I return individually and collectively, my
sincere and heartfelt thanks.

"I shall now, my lords, as no doubt you will suggest to me, think of
the propriety of turning my attention to the world beyond the grave.
I shall now look only to that home where sorrows are at an end, where
joy is eternal. I shall hope and pray that freedom may vet dawn on
this poor down-trodden country. It is my hope, it is my prayer, and
the last words that I shall utter will be a prayer to God for
forgiveness, and a prayer for poor old Ireland. Now, my lords; in
relation to the other man, Corridon, I will make a few remarks.
Perhaps before I go to Corridon, I should say much has been spoken on
that table of Colonel Kelly, and of the meetings held at his lodgings
in London. I desire to state, I never knew where Colonel Kelly's
lodgings were. I never knew where he lived in London, till I heard
the informer, Massey, announce it on the table. I never attended a
meeting at Colonel Kelly's; and the hundred other statements that
have been made about him. I now solemnly declare on my honour as a
man--as a dying man--these statements have been totally unfounded and
false from beginning to end. In relation to the small paper that was
introduced here, and brought against me as evidence, as having been
found on my person in connexion with that oath, I desire to say that
that paper was not found on my person. I knew no person whose name
was on that paper. O'Beirne, of Dublin, or those other delegates you
heard of, I never saw or met. That paper has been put in there for
some purpose. I can swear positively it is not in my handwriting. I
can also swear I never saw it; yet it is used as evidence against me.
Is this justice? Is this right? Is this manly? I am willing if I have
transgressed the laws to suffer the penalty, but I object to this
system of trumping up a case to take away the life of a human being.
True, I ask for no mercy. I feel that, with my present emaciated
frame and somewhat shattered constitution, it is bettor that my life
should be brought to an end than that I should drag out a miserable
existence in the prison dens of Portland. Thus it is, my lords, I
accept the verdict. Of course my acceptance of it is unnecessary, but
I am satisfied with it. And now I shall close. True it is there are
many feelings that actuate me at this moment. In fact, these few
disconnected remarks can give no idea of what I desire to state to
the court. I have ties to bind me to life and society as strong as
any man in this court can have. I have a family I love as much as any
man in this court loves his family. But I can remember the blessing I
received from an aged mother's lips as I left her the last time. She,
speaking as the Spartan mother did, said--'Go, my boy, return either
with your shield or upon it.' This reconciles me--this gives me
heart. I submit to my doom; and I hope that God will forgive me my
past sins. I hope also, that inasmuch as He has for seven hundred
years preserved Ireland, notwithstanding all the tyranny to which she
has been subjected, as a separate and distinct nationality, He will
also assist her to retrieve her fallen fortunes--to rise in her
beauty and majesty, the Sister of Columbia, the peer of any nation in
the world."

General Burke, as our readers are well aware, was not executed. The
government shrank from carrying out the barbarous sentence of the law,
and his punishment was changed to the still more painful, if less
appalling fate, of penal servitude for life. Of General Burke's private
character we have said little; but our readers will be able to
understand it from the subjoined brief extracts from two of his letters.
On the very night previous to his trial he wrote to his mother from
Kilmainham Prison:--

... "On last Easter Sunday I partook of Holy Communion at a late
mass, I calculated the difference of time between this longitude and
yours, for I knew that you and my dear sisters were partaking of the
sacrament at early mass on that day, as was your wont, and I felt
that our souls were in communion together."

We conclude with the following letter from General Burke, which has
never before been published, and which we are sure will be of deep
interest to our readers. It is addressed to the reverend gentleman who
had been his father confessor in Clonmel:--


"_4th, Month of Mary._


" ... I am perfectly calm and resigned, with my thoughts firmly
centered with hope in the goodness and mercy of that kind Redeemer,
whose precious blood was shed for my salvation; as also in the
mediation and intercession of His Blessed Mother, who is my Star of
Hope and Consolation. I know, dear father, I need not ask you to be
remembered in your prayers, for I feel that in your supplication to
the Throne of Mercy I have not been forgotten.... I have only one
thought which causes me much sorrow, and that is that my good and
loving mother will break down under the weight of her affliction,
and, oh, God, I who loved her more than the life which animates the
hand that writes to be the cause of it! This thought unmans and
prostrates me. I wrote to her at the commencement of my trial, and
told her how I thought it would terminate, and spoke a long and last
farewell. I have not written since; it would break my heart to
attempt it; but I would ask you as an especial favour that you would
write to her and tell her I am happy and reconciled to the will of
God who has given me this opportunity of saving my immortal soul. I
hope to hear from you before I leave this world."

"Good-bye, father, and that God may bless you in your ministry is the
prayer of an obedient child of the church."


* * * * *


It is not Irish-born men alone whose souls are filled with a chivalrous
love for Ireland, and a stern hatred of her oppressor. There are amongst
the ranks of her patriots none more generous, more resolute, or more
active in her cause than the children born of Irish parents in various
parts of the world. In London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham,
Glasgow, and all the large towns of Great Britain, throughout the United
States, and in the British colonies, many of the best known and most
thorough-going "Irishmen" are men whose place of birth was not beneath
the Irish skies, and amongst them are some who never saw the shores of
the Green Isle. One of these men was Captain John M'Afferty. He was born
of Irish parents in the State of Ohio, in the year 1838, and at their
knees he heard of the rights and wrongs of Ireland, learned to
sympathise with the sufferings of that country, and to regard the
achievement of its freedom as a task in which he was bound to bear a
part. He grew up to be a man of adventurous and daring habits, better
fitted for the camp than for the ordinary ways of peaceful life; and
when the civil war broke out he soon found his place in one of those
regiments of the Confederacy whose special duty lay in the
accomplishment of the most hazardous enterprises. He belonged to the
celebrated troop of Morgan's guerillas, whose dashing feats of valour so
often filled the Federal forces with astonishment and alarm. In the
latter part of 1865 he crossed over to this country to assist in leading
the insurrection which was then being prepared by the Fenian
organization. He was arrested, as already stated in these pages, on
board the steamer at Queenstown before he had set foot on Irish soil;
when brought to trial at Cork, in the month of December, the lawyers
discovered that being an alien, and having committed no overt act of
treason within the Queen's dominions, there was no case against him, and
he was consequently discharged. He then went back to America, took an
active part in some Fenian meetings, made a speech at one of them which
was held at Jones's Wood, and when the report of the proceedings
appeared in print, he, with a sense of grim humour, posted a copy
containing his oration to the governor of Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. In
the latter part of 1866, when James Stephens was promising to bring off
immediately the long-threatened insurrection, M'Afferty again crossed
the ocean, and landed in England. There he was mainly instrumental in
planning and organizing that extraordinary movement, the raid on
Chester, which took place on Monday, 11th of February, 1867. It is now
confessed, even by the British authorities themselves, that but for the
timely intimation of the design given by the informer Corridon,
M'Afferty and his party would probably have succeeded in capturing the
old Castle, and seizing the large store of arms therein contained.
Finding their movements anticipated, the Fenian party left Chester as
quietly as they had come, and the next that was heard of M'Afferty was
his arrest, and that of his friend and companion John Flood, on the 23rd
of February, in the harbour of Dublin, after they had got into a small
boat from out of the collier "New Draper," which had just arrived from
Whitehaven. M'Afferty was placed in the dock of Green-street
court-house for trial on Wednesday, May 1st, while the jury were absent
considering their verdict in the case of Burke and Doran. On Monday, May
the 6th, he was declared guilty by the jury. On that day week a Court of
Appeal, consisting of ten of the Irish judges, sat to consider some
legal points raised by Mr. Butt in the course of the trial, the most
important of which was the question whether the prisoner, who had been
in custody since February 23rd, could be held legally responsible for
the events of the Fenian rising which occurred on the night of the 5th
of March. Their lordships gave an almost unanimous judgment against the
prisoner on Saturday, May 18th, and on the Monday following he was
brought up for sentence, on which occasion, in response to the usual
question, he spoke as follows:--

"My lords--I have nothing to say that can, at this advanced stage of
the trial, ward off that sentence of death, for I might as well hurl
my complaint (if I had one) at the orange trees of the sunny south,
or the tall pine trees of the bleak north, as now to speak to the
question why sentence of death should not be passed upon me according
to the law of the land; but I do protest loudly against the injustice
of that sentence. I have been brought to trial upon a charge of high
treason against the government of Great Britain, and guilt has been
brought home to me upon the evidence of one witness, and that witness
a perjured informer. I deny distinctly that there have been two
witnesses to prove the overt act of treason against me. I deny
distinctly that you have brought two independent witnesses to two
overt acts. There is but one witness to prove the overt act of
treason against me. I grant that there has been a cloud of
circumstantial evidence to show my connection (if I may please to use
that word) with the Irish people in their attempt for Irish
independence, and I claim that as an American and as an alien, I have
a reason and a right to sympathise with the Irish people or any other
people who may please to revolt against that form of government by
which they believe they are governed tyrannically. England
sympathised with America. She not only sympathised, but she gave her
support to both parties; but who ever heard of an Englishman having
been arrested by the United States government for having given his
support to the Confederate States of America and placed on his trial
for high treason against the government? No such case ever has been.
I do not deny that I have sympathised with the Irish people--I love
Ireland--I love the Irish people. And, if I were free to-morrow, and
the Irish people were to take the field for independence, my sympathy
would be with them; I would join them if they had any prospect
whatever of independence, but I would not give my sanction to the
useless effusion of blood, however done; and I state distinctly that
I had nothing whatever to do, directly or indirectly, with the
movement that took place in the county of Dublin. I make that
statement on the brink of my grave. Again, I claim that I have a
right to be discharged of the charge against me by the language of
the law by which I have been tried. That law states that you must
have two independent witnesses to prove the overt act against the
prisoner. That is the only complaint I have to make, and I make that
aloud. I find no fault with the jury, no complaint against the
judges. I have been tried and found guilty. I am perfectly satisfied
that I will go to my grave. I will go to my grave like a gentleman
and a Christian, although I regret that I should be cut off at this
stage of my life--still many an noble Irishman fell in defence of the
rights of my southern clime. I do not wish to make any flowery speech
to win sympathy in the court of justice. Without any further remarks
I will now accept the sentence of the court."

Mr. Justice Fitzgerald then in the "solemn tone of voice" adopted on
such occasions proceeded to pass sentence in the usual form, fixing the
12th day of June as the date on which the execution should take place.

The prisoner heard the sentence without giving the slightest symptoms of
emotion, and then spoke as follows:--

"I will accept my sentence as becomes a gentleman and a Christian. I
have but one request to ask of the tribunal, and that is that after
the execution of the sentence my remains shall be turned over to Mr.
Lawless to be by him interred in consecrated ground as quietly as he
possibly can. I have now, previous to leaving the dock, once more to
return my grateful and sincere thanks to Mr. Butt, the star of the
Irish bar, for his able and devoted defence on behalf of me and my
friends. Mr. Butt, I thank you. I also return the same token of
esteem to Mr. Dowse, for the kind and feeling manner in which he
alluded to the scenes in my former life. Those kind allusions recall
to my mind many moments--some bright, beautiful, and glorious--and
yet some sad recollections arise of generous hopes that floated o'er
me, and now sink beyond the grave. Mr. Butt, please convey to Mr.
Dowse my grateful and sincere thanks. Mr. Lawless, I also return you
my thanks for your many acts of kindness--I can do no more."

He was not executed however. The commutation of Burke's sentence
necessitated the like course in all the other capital cases, and
M'Afferty's doom was changed to penal servitude for life.

* * * * *


On the day following that on which M'Afferty's sentence was pronounced,
the trial of three men, named John Flood, Edward Duffy, and John Cody
was brought to a conclusion. When they were asked what they had to say
why sentence should not be passed on them, Cody denied with all possible
earnestness the charge of being president of an assassination committee,
which had been brought against him. Flood--a young man of remarkably
handsome exterior--declared that the evidence adduced against himself
was untrue in many particulars. He alluded to the Attorney-General's
having spoken of him as "that wretched man, Flood." "My lords," said he,
"if to love my country more than my life makes me a wretched man, then I
am a very wretched man indeed." Edward Duffy, it might be supposed by
anyone looking at his emaciated frame, wasted by consumption, and with
the seal of death plainly set on his brow, would not be able to offer
any remarks to the court; but he roused himself to the effort. The
noble-hearted young fellow had been previously in the clutches of the
government for the same offence. He was arrested with James Stephens and
others at Fairfield House, in November, 1865, but after a brief
imprisonment was released in consideration of the state of his health,
which seemed such as would not leave him many days to live. But, few or
many, Duffy could not do otherwise than devote them to the cause he had
at heart. He was re-arrested at Boyle on the 11th of March, and this
time the government took care they would not quit their hold of him. The
following is the speech which, by a great physical effort, he delivered
from the dock, his dark eyes brightening, and his pallid features
lighting up with the glow of an earnest and lofty enthusiasm while he

"The Attorney-General has made a wanton attack on me, but I leave my
countrymen to judge between us. There is no political act of mine
that I in the least regret. I have laboured earnestly and sincerely
in my country's cause, and I have been actuated throughout by a
strong sense of duty. I believe that a man's duty to his country is
part of his duty to God, for it is He who implants the feeling of
patriotism in the human breast. He, the great searcher of hearts,
knows that I have been actuated by no mean or paltry ambition--that I
have never worked for any selfish end. For the late outbreak I am not
responsible; I did all in my power to prevent it, for I knew that,
circumstanced as we then were, it would be a failure. It has been
stated in the course of those trials that Stephens was for peace.
This is a mistake. It may be well that it should not go
uncontradicted. It is but too well known in Ireland that he sent
numbers of men over here to fight, promising to be with them when the
time would come. The time did come, but not Mr. Stephens. He remained
in France to visit the Paris Exhibition. It may be a very pleasant
sight, but I would not be in his place now. He is a lost man--lost to
honour, lost to country. There are a few things I would wish to say
relative to the evidence given against me at my trial, but I would
ask your lordships to give me permission to say them after sentence.
I have a reason for asking to be allowed to say them after sentence
has been passed."

The Chief Justice--"That is not the usual practice. Not being tried
for life, it is doubtful to me whether you have a right to speak at
all. What you are asked to say is why sentence should not be passed
upon you, and whatever you have to say you must say now."

"Then, if I must say it now I declare it before my God that what
Kelly swore against me on the table is not true. I saw him in
Ennisgroven, but that I ever spoke to him on any political subject I
declare to heaven I never did. I knew him from a child in that little
town, herding with the lowest and vilest. Is it to be supposed I'd
put my liberty into the hands of such a character? I never did it.
The next witness is Corridon. He swore that at the meeting he
referred to I gave him directions to go to Kerry to find O'Connor,
and put himself in communication with him. I declare to my God every
word of that is false. Whether O'Connor was in the country or whether
he had made his escape, I know just as little as your lordships; and
I never heard of the Kerry rising until I saw it in the public
papers. As to my giving the American officers money that night,
before my God, on the verge of my grave, where my sentence will send
me, I say that also is false. As to the writing that the policeman
swore to in that book, and which is not a prayer-book, but the
'Imitation of Christ,' given to me by a lady to whom I served my
time, what was written in that book was written by another young man
in her employment. That is his writing not mine. It is the writing
of a young man in the house, and I never wrote a line of it."

The Lord Chief Justice--"It was not sworn to be in your handwriting."

"Yes, my lord, it was. The policeman swore it was in my

The Lord Chief Justice--"That is a mistake. It was said to be like

"The dream of my life has been that I might be fighting for Ireland.
The jury have doomed me to a more painful, but not less glorious
death. I now bid farewell to my friends and all who are dear to me.

"'There is a world where souls are free,
Where tyrants taint not nature's bliss;
If death that bright world's opening be,
Oh, who would live a slave in this.'

"I am proud to be thought worthy of suffering for my country; when I
am lying in my lonely cell I will not forget Ireland, and my last
prayer will be that the God of liberty may give her strength to shake
off her chains."

John Flood and Edward Duffy were then sentenced each to fifteen years of
penal servitude, and Cody to penal servitude for life.

Edward Duffy's term of suffering did not last long. A merciful
Providence gave his noble spirit release from its earthly tenement
before one year from the date of his sentence had passed away. On the
21st of May, 1867, his trial concluded; on the 17th of January, 1868,
the patriot lay dead in his cell in Millbank Prison, London. The
government permitted his friends to remove his remains to Ireland for
interment; and they now rest in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, where
friendly hands oft renew the flowers on his grave, and many a heartfelt
prayer is uttered that God would give the patriot's soul eternal rest,
and "let perpetual light shine unto him."

* * * * *


The connexion of Stephen Joseph Meany with Irish politics dates back to
1848, when he underwent an imprisonment of some months in Carrickfergus
Castle, under the provisions of the _Habeas Corpus_ Suspension Act. He
had been a writer on one of the national newspapers of that period, and
was previously a reporter for a Dublin daily paper. He joined the Fenian
movement in America, and was one of the "Senators" in O'Mahony's
organization. In December, 1866, he crossed over to England, and in the
following month he was arrested in London, and was brought in custody
across to Ireland. His trial took place in Dublin on the 16th of
February, 1867, when the legality of the mode of his arrest was denied
by his counsel, and as it was a very doubtful question, the point was
reserved to be considered by a Court of Appeal. This tribunal sat on May
the 13th, 1867, and on May the 18th, their decision confirming the
conviction was pronounced. It was not until the 21st of the following
month, at the Commission of Oyer and Terminer that he was brought up for
sentence. He then delivered the following able address to show "why
sentence should not be passed on him":--

"My lords--There are many reasons I could offer why sentence should
not--could not--be pronounced upon me according to law, if seven
months of absolute solitary imprisonment, and the almost total disuse
of speech during that period, had left me energy enough, or even
language sufficient to address the court. But yielding obedience to a
suggestion coming from a quarter which I am bound to respect, as well
indeed as in accordance with my own feelings, I avoid everything like
speech-making for outside effect. Besides, the learned counsel who so
ably represented me in the Court of Appeal, and the eminent judges
who in that court gave judgment for me, have exhausted all that could
be said on the law of the case. Of their arguments and opinions your
lordships have judicial knowledge. I need not say that both in
interest as in conviction I am in agreement with the constitutional
principles laid down by the minority of the judges in that court, and
I have sufficient respect for the dignity of the court--sufficient
regard to what is due to myself--to concede fully and frankly to the
majority a conscientious view of a novel and, it may be, a difficult

"But I do not ask too much in asking that before your lordships
proceed to pass any sentence you will consider the manner in which
the court was divided on that question--to bear in mind that the
minority declaring against the legality and the validity of the
conviction was composed of some of the ablest and most experienced
judges of the Irish bench or any bench--to bear in mind that one of
these learned judges who had presided at the Commission Court was one
of the most emphatic in the Court of Criminal Appeal in declaring
against my liability to be tried; and moreover--and he ought to
know--that there was not a particle of evidence to sustain the cause
set up at the last moment, and relied upon by the crown, that I was
an 'accessory before the fact' to that famous Dublin overt act, for
which, as an afterthought of the crown, I was in fact tried. And I
ask you further to bear in mind that the affirmance of the conviction
was not had on fixed principles of law--for the question was
unprecedented--but on a speculative view of a suppositious case, and
I must say a strained application of an already over-strained and
dangerous doctrine--the doctrine of constructive criminality--the
doctrine of making a man at a distance of three thousand miles or
more, legally responsible for the words and acts of others whom he
had never seen, and of whom he had never heard, under the fiction, or
the 'supposition,' that he was a co-conspirator. The word
'supposition' is not mine, my lords; it is the word put forward
descriptive of the point by the learned judges presiding at my trial;
for I find in the case prepared by these judges for the Court of
Criminal Appeal the following paragraph:--

"'Sufficient evidence was given on the part of the crown of acts of
members of the said association in Ireland not named in the
indictment in promotion of the several objects aforesaid, and done
within the county of the city of Dublin, to sustain some of the overt
acts charged in the indictment supposing them to be the acts of the
defendant himself.'

"Fortified by such facts--with a court so divided, and with opinions
so expressed--I submit that, neither according to act of parliament,
nor in conformity with the practice at common law, nor in any way in
pursuance of the principles of that apocryphal abstraction, that
magnificent myth--the British constitution--am I amenable to the
sentence of this court--or any court in this country. True, I am in
the toils, and it may be vain to discuss how I was brought into them.
True, my long and dreary imprisonment--shut away from all converse or
association with humanity, in a cell twelve feet by six--the
humiliations of prison discipline--the hardships of prison fare--the
handcuffs, and the heartburnings--this court and its surroundings of
power and authority--all these are 'hard practical facts,' which no
amount of indignant protests can negative--no denunciation of the
wrong refine away; and it may be, as I have said, worse than
useless--vain and absurd--to question the right where might is
predominant. But the invitation just extended to me by the officer of
the court means, if it means anything--if it be not like the rest, a
solemn mockery--that there still is left to me the poor privilege of
complaint. And I do complain. I complain that law and justice have
been alike violated in my regard--I complain that the much belauded
attribute 'British fair play' has been for me a nullity--I complain
that the pleasant fiction described in the books as 'personal
freedom' has had a most unpleasant illustration in my person--and I
furthermore and particularly complain that by the design and
contrivance of what are called 'the authorities,' I have been brought
to this country, not for trial but for condemnation--not for justice
but for judgment.

"I will not tire the patience of the court, or exhaust my own
strength, by going over the history of this painful case--the
kidnapping in London on the mere belief of a police-constable that I
was a Fenian in New York--the illegal transportation to Ireland--the
committal for trial on a specific charge, whilst a special messenger
was despatched to New York to hunt up informers to justify the
illegality and the outrage, and to get a foundation for any charge. I
will not dwell on the 'conspicuous absence' of fair play, in the
crown at the trial having closed their cases without any reference to
the Dublin transaction, but, as an afterthought, suggested by their
discovered failure, giving in evidence the facts and circumstances of
that case, and thus succeeding in making the jury convict me for an
offence with which up to that moment the crown did not intend to
charge me. I will not say what I think of the mockery of putting me
on trial in the Commission Court in Dublin for alleged words and acts
in New York, and though the evidence was without notice, and the
alleged overt acts without date, taunting me with not proving an
_alibi_, and sending that important ingredient to a jury already ripe
for a conviction. Prove an _alibi_ to-day in respect of meetings held
in Clinton Hall, New York, the allegations relating to which only
came to my knowledge yesterday! I will not refer with any bitter
feeling to the fact that whilst the validity of the conviction so
obtained was still pending in the Court of Criminal Appeal, the Right
Hon. and Noble the Chief Secretary for Ireland declared in the House
of Commons that 'that conviction was the most important one at the
Commission'--thus prejudicing my case, I will not say willingly; but
the observation was, at least, inopportune, and for me unfortunate.

"I will not speak my feeling on the fact that in the arguments in the
case in the Court for Reserved Cases, the Right Hon. the
Attorney-General appealed to the passions--if such can exist in
judges--and not to the judgment of the court, for I gather from the
judgment of Mr. Justice O'Hagan, that the right hon. gentleman made
an earnest appeal 'that such crimes' as mine 'should not be allowed
to go unpunished'.--forgetful, I will not say designedly forgetful,
that he was addressing the judges of the land, in the highest court
of the land, on matters of law, and not speaking to a pliant Dublin
jury on a treason trial in the court-house of Green-street.

"Before I proceed further, my lords, there is a matter which, as
simply personal to myself I should not mind, but which as involving
high interests to the community, and serious consequences to
individuals, demand a special notice. I allude to the system of
manufacturing informers. I want to know, if the court can inform me,
by what right a responsible officer of the crown entered my solitary
cell at Kilmainham prison on Monday last--unbidden and
unexpected--uninvited and undesired. I want to know what
justification there was for his coming to insult me in my solitude
and in my sorrow--ostensibly informing me that I was to be brought up
for sentence on Thursday, but in the same breath adroitly putting to
me the question if I knew any of the men recently arrested near
Dungarvan, and now in the prison of Kilmainham. Coming thus, with a
detective dexterity, carrying in one hand a threat of sentence and
punishment--in the other as a counterpoise and, I suppose an
alternative, a temptation to treachery. Did he suppose that seven
months of imprisonment had so broken my spirit, as well as my health,
that I would be an easy prey to his blandishments? Did he dream that
the prospect of liberty which newspaper rumour and semi-official
information held out to me was too dear to be forfeited for a
trilling forfeiture of honour? Did he believe that by an act of
secret turpitude I would open my prison doors only to close them the
faster on others who may or may not have been my friends--or did he
imagine he had found in me a Massey to be moulded and manipulated
into the service of the crown, or a Corridon to have cowardice and
cupidity made the incentives to his baseness. I only wonder how the
interview ended as it did; but I knew I was a prisoner, and
self-respect preserved my patience and secured his safety. Great, my
lords, as have been my humiliation in prison, hard and heart-breaking
as have been the ordeals through which I have passed since the 1st of
December last, there was no incident or event of that period fraught
with more pain on the one hand, or more suggestiveness on the other,
than this sly and secret attempt at improvising an informer. I can
forget the pain in view of the suggestiveness; and unpleasant as is
my position here to-day, I am almost glad of the opportunity which
may end in putting some check to the spy system in prisons. How many
men have been won from honour and honesty by the stealthy visit to
the cell is more of course than I can say--how many have had their
weakness acted upon, or their wickness fanned into flame by which
means I have no opportunity of knowing--in how many frailty and folly
may have blossomed into falsehood it is for those concerned to
estimate. There is one thing, however, certain--operating in this way
is more degrading to the tempter than to the tempted; and the
government owes it to itself to put an end to a course of tactics
pursued in its name, which in the results can only bring its
humiliation--the public are bound in self-protection to protect the
prisoner from the prowling visits of a too zealous official.

"I pass over all these things, my lords, and I ask your attention to
the character of the evidence on which alone my conviction was
obtained. The evidence of a special, subsidized spy, and of an
infamous and ingrate informer.

"In all ages, and amongst all peoples, the spy has been held in
marked abhorrence. In the amnesties of war there is for him alone no
quarter; in the estimate of social life no toleration; his
self-abasement excites contempt, not compassion; his patrons despise
while they encourage; and they who stoop to enlist the services
shrink with disgust from the moral leprosy covering the servitor. Of
such was the witness put forward to corroborate the informer, and
still not corroborating him. Of such was that phenomenon, a police
spy, who declared himself an unwilling witness for the crown! There
was no reason why in my regard he should be unwilling--he knew me not
previously. I have no desire to speak harshly of Inspector Doyle; he
said in presence of the Crown Solicitor, and was not contradicted,
that he was compelled by threats to ascend the witness table; he may
have had cogent reasons for his reluctance in his own conscience. God
will judge him.

"But how shall I speak of the informer, Mr. John Devany? What
language should be employed in describing the character of one who
adds to the guilt of perfidy to his associates the crime of perjury
to his God?--the man who eating of your bread, sharing your
confidence, and holding, as it were, your very purse-strings, all the
time meditates your overthrow and pursues it to its accomplishment?
How paint the wretch who, under pretence of agreement in your
opinions, worms himself into your secrets only to betray them; and
who, upon the same altar with you, pledges his faith and fealty to
the same principles, and then sells faith, and fealty, and
principles, and you alike, for the unhallowed Judas guerdon? Of such,
on his own confession was that distinguished upholder of the British
crown and government, Mr. Devany. With an affrontery that did not
falter, and knew not how to blush, he detailed his own participation
in the acts for which he was prosecuting me as a participator. And is
the evidence of a man like that--a conviction obtained upon such
evidence--any warrant for a sentence depriving me of all that make
life desirable or enjoyable?

"He was first spy for the crown--in the pay of the crown, under the
control of the crown, and think you he had any other object than to
do the behests of the crown?

"He was next the traitor spy, who had taken that one fatal step, from
which in this life there is no retrogression--that one plunge in
infamy from which there is no receding--that one treachery for which
there is no earthly forgiveness; and, think you, he hesitated about a
prejury more or less to secure present pay and future patronage? Here
was one to whom existence offers now no prospect save in making his
perfidy a profession, and think you he was deterred by conscience
from recommending himself to his patrons? Think you that when at a
distance of three thousand miles from the scenes he professed to
describe, he could lie with impunity and invent without detection, he
was particular to a shade in doing his part of a most filthy bargain?
It is needless to describe a wretch of that kind--his own actions
speak his character. It were superfluous to curse him, his whole
existence will be a living, a continuing curse. No necessity to use
the burning words of the poet and say:--

"'May life's unblessed cup for him
Be drugged with treacheries to the brim.'

"Every sentiment in his regard of the country he has dishonoured, and
the people he has humbled, will be one of horror and hate. Every sigh
sent up from the hearts he has crushed and the homes he has made
desolate, will be mingled with execrations on the name of the
informer. Every heart-throb in the prison cells of this land where
his victims count time by corroding his thought--every grief that
finds utterance from these victims in the quarries of Portland will
go up to heaven freighted with curses on the Nagles, the Devanys, the
Masseys, the Gillespies, the Corridons, and the whole host of
mercenary miscreants, who, faithless to their friends and recreant to
their professions, have, paraphrasing the words of Moore, taken their
perfidy to heaven seeking to make accomplice of their God--wretches
who have embalmed their memories in imperishable infamy, and given
their accursed names to an inglorious immortality. Nor will I
speculate on their career in the future. We have it on the best
existing authority that a distinguished informer of antiquity seized
with remorse, threw away his blood-money, 'went forth and hanged
himself.' We know that in times within the memory of living men a
government actually set the edifying and praiseworthy example of
hanging an informer when they had no further use of his valuable
services--thus _dropping_ his acquaintance with effect. I have no
wish for such a fate to any of the informers who have cropped out so
luxuriantly in these latter days--a long life and a troubled
conscience would, perhaps, be their correct punishment--though
certainly there would be a consistent compensation--a poetic
justice--in a termination so exalted to a career so brilliant.

"I leave these fellows and turn for a moment to their victims. And, I
would here, without any reference to my own case, earnestly implore
that sympathy with political sufferers should not be merely
telescopic in its character, 'distance lending enchantment to the
view;' and that when your statesmen sentimentalize upon, and your
journalists denounce far-away tyrannies--the horrors of Neapolitan
dungeons--the abridgement of personal freedom in Continental
countries--the exercise of arbitrary power by irresponsible authority
in other lands--they would turn their eyes homeward, and examine the
treatment and the sufferings of their own political prisoners. I
would, in all sincerity, suggest that humane and well-meaning men,
who exert themselves for the remission of the death-penalty as a
mercy, would rather implore that the doors of solitary and silent
captivity should be remitted to the more merciful doom of an
immediate relief from suffering by immediate execution--the
opportunity of an immediate appeal from man's cruelty to God's
justice. I speak strongly on this point because I feel it deeply. I
speak not without example. At the Commission at which I was tried
there was tried also and sentenced a young man named Stowell. I well
remember that raw and dreary morning, the 12th March, when handcuffed
to Stowell I was sent from Kilmainham Prison to the County Gaol of
Kildare. I well remember our traversing, so handcuffed, from the town
of Sailing to the town of Naas, ancle deep in snow and mud, and I
recall now with pain our sad foreboding of that morning. These in
part have been fulfilled. Sunday after Sunday I saw poor Stowell at
chapel in Naas Gaol drooping and dying. One such Sunday--the 12th
May--passed and I saw him no more. On Wednesday, the 15th, he was, as
they say, _mercifully_ released from prison, but the fiat of mercy
had previously gone forth from a higher power--the political convict
simply reached his own home to die, with loving eyes watching by his
death-bed. On Sunday, the 19th May, he was consigned to another
prison home in Glasnevin Cemetery. May God have mercy on his
soul--may God forgive his persecutors--may God give peace and
patience to those who are doomed to follow.

"Pardon this digression, my lords, I could not avoid it. Returning to
the question, why sentence should not be pronounced upon me, I would
ask your lordships' attention to the fact showing, even in the
estimate of the crown, the case is not one for sentence.

"On the morning of my trial, and before the trial, terms were offered
to me by the crown. The direct proposition was made through my
solicitor, through the learned counsel who so ably defended me,
through the Governor of Kilmainham Prison--by all three--that if I
pleaded guilty to the indictment, I should get off with six months'
imprisonment. Knowing the pliancy of Dublin juries in political
cases, the offer was, doubtless, a tempting one. Valuing liberty, it
was almost resistless--in view of a possible penal servitude--but
having regard to principle, I spurned the compromise. I then gave
unhesitatingly, as I would now give, the answer, that not for a
reduction of the punishment to six hours would I surrender
faith--that I need never look, and could never look, wife or
children, friends or family, in the face if capable of such a selfish
cowardice. I could not to save myself imperil the safety of others--I
could not plead guilty to an indictment in which six others were
distinctly charged by name as co-conspirators with me--one of those
six since tried, convicted, and sentenced to death--I could not
consent to obtain my own pardon at their expense--furnish the crown
with a case in point for future convictions, and become, even though
indirectly, worthy to rank with that brazen battalion of venal
vagabonds, who have made the Holy Gospel of God the medium of barter
for their unholy gain, and obtained access to the inmost heart of
their selected victim only to coin its throbbing into the traitor's
gold and traffic on its very life-blood.

"Had I been charged simply with my own words and deeds I would have
no hesitation in making acknowledgement. I have nothing to repent
and nothing to conceal--nothing to retract and nothing to
countermand; but in the language of the learned Lord Chief Baron in
this case, I could not admit 'the preposterous idea of thinking by
deputy' any more than I could plead guilty to an indictment which
charge others with crime. Further, my lords, I could not acknowledge
culpability for the acts and words of others at a distance of three
thousand miles--others whom I had never seen, of whom I had never
heard, and with whom I never had had communication. I could not admit
that the demoniac atrocities, described as Fenian principles by the
constabulary-spy Talbot, ever had my sanction or approval or the
sanction or approval of any man in America.

"If, my lords, six months' imprisonment was the admeasurement of the
law officers of the crown as an adequate punishment for my alleged
offence--assuming that the court had jurisdiction to try and
punish--then, am I now entitled to my discharge independent of all
other grounds of discharge, for I have gone through seven months of
an imprisonment which could not be excelled by demon ingenuity in
horror and in hardship--in solitude, in silence and in suspense. Your
lordships will not only render further litigation necessary by
passing sentence for the perhaps high crime--but still the untried
crime--of refusing to yield obedience to the crown's proposition for
my self-abasement. You will not, I am sure, visit upon my rejection
of Mr. Anderson's delicate overture--you will not surely permit the
events occurring, unhappily occurring, since my trial to influence
your judgments. And do not, I implore you, accept as a truth,
influencing that judgement, Talbot's definition of the objects of
Feminism. Hear what Devany, the American informer, describes them to
be. 'The members,' he says, 'were _pledged by word of honour_ to
promote love and harmony amongst all classes of Irishmen and to
labour for the independence of Ireland.' Talbot says that in Ireland
'the members are _bound by oath_ to seize the property of the
country and murder all opposed to them.' Can any two principles be
more distinct from each other? Could there be a conspiracy for a
common object by such antagonistic means? To murder all opposed to
your principles may be an effectual way of producing unanimity, but
the quality of love and harmony engendered by such a patent process,
would be extremely equivocal. Mr. Talbot, for the purposes of his
evidence, must have borrowed a leaf from the History of the French
Revolution, and adopted as singularly telling and appropriate for
effect the saying attributed to Robespiere: 'Let us cut everybody's
throat but our own, and then we are sure to be masters.'

"No one in America, I venture to affirm, ever heard of such designs
in connexion with the Fenian Brotherhood. No one in America would
countenance such designs. Revolutionists are not ruffians or
rapparees. A judge from the bench at Cork, and a noble lord in his
place in parliament, bore testimony to that fact, in reference to the
late movement; and I ask you, my lords--I would ask the country from
this court--for the sake of the character of your countrymen--to
believe Devany's interpretation of Fenianism--tainted traitor though
he be--rather than believe that the kindly instincts of Irishmen, at
home and abroad--their generous impulses--their tender
sensibilities--all their human affections, in a word--could
degenerate into the attributes of the assassin, as stated by that
hog-in-armour, that crime-creating Constable Talbot.

"Taking other ground, my lords, I object to any sentence upon me. I
stand at this bar a declared citizen of the United States of America,
entitled to the protection of such citizenship; and I protest against
the right to pass any sentence in any British court for acts done, or
words spoken, or alleged to be done or spoken, on American soil,
within the shades of the American flag, and under the sanction of
American institutions. I protest against the assumption that would in
this country limit the right of thought, or control the liberty of
speech in an assemblage of American citizens in an American city. The
United States will, doubtless, respect and protect her neutrality
laws and observe the comity of nations, whatever they may mean in
practice, but I protest against the monstrous fiction--the
transparent fraud--that would seek in ninety years after the
evacuation of New York by the British to bring the people of New York
within the vision and venue of a British jury--that in ninety years
after the last British bayonet had glistened in an American sunlight,
after the last keel of the last of the English fleet ploughed its
last furrow in the Hudson or the Delaware--after ninety years of
republican independence--would seek to restore that city of New York
and its institutions to the dominion of the crown and government of
Great Britain. This is the meaning of it, and disguise it as you may,
so will it be interpreted beyond the Atlantic. Not that the people of
America care one jot whether S.J. Meany were hanged, drawn, and
quartered to-morrow, but that there is a great principle involved.
Personally, I am of no consequence; politically, I represent in this
court the adopted citizen of America--for, as the _New York Herald_,
referring to this case, observed, if the acts done in my regard are
justifiable, there is nothing to prevent the extension of the same
justice to any other adopted citizen of the States visiting Great
Britain. It is, therefore, in the injustice of the case the influence
lies, and not in the importance of the individual.

"Law is called 'the perfection of reason.' Is there not danger of its
being regarded as the very climax of absurdity if fictions of this
kind can be turned into realities on the mere caprice of power. As a
distinguished English journalist has suggested in reference to the
case, 'though the law may doubtless be satisfied by the majority in
the Court of Appeal, yet common sense and common law would be widely
antagonistic if sentence were to follow a judgment so obtained.'

"On all grounds then I submit, in conclusion, this is not a case for
sentence. Waving for the purpose the international objection, and
appealing to British practice itself, I say it is not a fair case for
sentence. The professed policy of that practice has ever been to give
the benefit of doubt to the prisoner. Judges in their charges to
juries have ever theorized on this principle, and surely judges
themselves will not refuse to give practical effect to the theory. If
ever there was a case which more than another was suggestive of
doubt, it is surely one in which so many judges have pronounced
against the legality of the trial and the validity of the conviction
on which you are about to pass sentence. Each of these judges, be it
remembered, held competent in his individuality to administer the
criminal law of the country--each of whom, in fact, in his
individuality does so administer it unchallenged and unquestioned.

"A sentence under such circumstances, be it for a long period or a
short would be wanting in the element of moral effect--the effect of
example--which could alone give it value, and which is professedly
the aim of all legal punishment. A sentence under such circumstances
would be far from reassuring to the public mind as to the
'certainties' of the law, and would fail to commend the approval or
win the respect of any man 'within the realm or without.' While to
the prisoner, to the sufferer in chief, it would only bring the
bitter, and certainly not the repentant feeling that he suffered in
the wrong--that he was the victim of an injustice based on an
inference which not even the tyrant's plea of necessity can
sustain--namely, that at a particular time he was at a distance of
three thousand miles from the place where he then actually stood in
bodily presence, and that at that distance he actually thought the
thoughts and acted the acts of men unknown to him even by name. It
will bring to the prisoner, I repeat, the feeling--the bitter
feeling--that he was condemned on an unindicted charge pressed
suddenly into the service, and for a constructive crime which some of
the best authorities in the law have declared not to be a crime
cognizable in any of your courts.

"Let the crown put forward any supposition they please--indulge in
what special pleadings they will--sugar over the bitter pill of
constructive conspiracy as they can--to this complexion must come the
triangular injustice of this case--the illegal and unconstitutional
kidnapping in England--the unfair and invalid trial and conviction in
Ireland for the alleged offence in another hemisphere and under
mother sovereignty. My lords, I have done."

* * * * *


Captain John M'Clure, like Captain M'Afferty, was an American born, but
of Irish parentage. He was born at Dobb's Ferry, twenty-two miles from
New York, on July 17th, 1846, and he was therefore a mere youth when,
serving with distinguished gallantry in the Federal ranks, he attained
the rank of captain. He took part in the Fenian rising of the 5th March,
and was prominently concerned in the attack and capture of Knockadoon
coast-guard station. He and his companion, Edward Kelly, were captured
by a military party at Kilclooney Wood, on March 31st, after a smart
skirmish, in which their compatriot the heroic and saintly Peter
Crowley lost his life. His trial took place before the Special
Commission at Cork, on May 22nd and 23rd, 1807. The following are the
spirited and eloquent terms in which he addressed the court previous to
sentence being pronounced on him:--

"My lords--In answer to the question as to why the sentence of the
court should not now be passed upon me, I would desire to make a few
remarks in relation to my late exertions in behalf of the suffering
people of this country, in aiding them in their earnest endeavours to
attain the independence of their native land. Although not born upon
the soil of Ireland, my parents were, and from history, and
tradition, and fireside relations, I became conversant with the
country's history from my earliest childhood, and as the human race
will ever possess these God-like qualities which inspire mankind with
sympathy for the suffering, a desire to aid poor Ireland to rise from
her moral degradation took possession of me. I do not now wish to say
to what I assign the failure of that enterprise with which are
associated my well-meant acts for this persecuted land. I feel fully
satisfied of the righteousness of my every act in connexion with the
late revolutionary movement in this country, being actuated by a holy
desire to assist in the emancipation of an enslaved and generous
people. I derive more pleasure from having done the act than from any
other event that has occurred to me during my eventful but youthful
life. I wish it to be distinctly understood here, standing as I do
perhaps on the brink of an early grave, that I am no fillibuster or
freebooter, and that I had no personal object or inclination to gain
anything in coming to this country. I came solely through love of
Ireland and sympathy for her people. If I have forfeited my life. I
am ready to abide the issue. If my exertions on behalf of a
distressed people be a crime, I am willing to pay the penalty,
knowing, as I do, that what I have done was in behalf of a people
whose cause is just--a people who will appreciate and honour a man,
although he may not be a countryman of their own--still a man who is
willing to suffer in defence of that divine, that American
principle--the right of self-government. I would wish to tender to my
learned and eloquent counsel, Mr. Heron and Mr. Waters, and to my
solicitor, Mr. Collins, my sincere and heartfelt thanks for the able
manner in which they have conducted my defence. And now, my lords, I
trust I will meet in a becoming manner the penalty which it is now
the duty of your lordship to pronounce upon me. I have nothing more
to say."

* * * * *


On the same occasion the prisoner Edward Kelly delivered the following
soul-stirring address:--

"My lords--The novelty of my situation will plead for any want of
fluency on my part; and I beg your lordships' indulgence if I am
unnecessarily tedious. I have to thank the gentlemen of the jury for
their recommendation, which I know was well meant; but knowing, as I
do, what that mercy will be, I heartily wish that recommendation will
not be received. Why should I feel regret? What is death? The act of
passing from this life into the next. I trust that God will pardon me
my sins, and that I will have no cause to fear entering into the
presence of the ever-living and Most Merciful Father. I don't
recollect in my life ever having done anything with a deliberately
bad intention. In my late conduct I do not see anything for regret.
Why then, I say, should I feel regret? I leave the dread of death to
such wretches as Corridon and Massey--Corridon, a name once so
suggestive of sweetness and peace, now the representative of a
loathsome monster. If there be anything that can sink that man,
Corridon, lower in the scales of degradation, it is--"

The Chief Justice--"We cannot listen to any imputation on persons who
were examined as witnesses. Strictly speaking, you are only to say
why sentence of death should not be passed upon you; at the same time
we are very unwilling to hold a very strict hand, but we cannot allow
imputations to be made on third persons, witnesses or others, who
have come forward in this trial."

Prisoner--"Well, my lord, I will answer as well as I can the question
put to me. The Irish people through every generation ever since
England has obtained a footing in Ireland, have protested against the
occupation of our native soil by the English. Surely that is answer
enough why sentence of death should not be passed upon me. In the
part I have taken in the late insurrection, I feel conscious that I
was doing right. Next to serving his Creator, I believe it is a man's
solemn duty to serve his country. [Here the prisoner paused to
suppress his emotion, which rendered his utterance very feeble, and
continued]--my lords, I have nothing more to say, except to quote the
words of the sacred psalmist, in which you will understand that I
speak of my country as he speaks of his:--'If I forget thee, O
Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten, let my tongue cleave to my
jaws if I do not remember thee: if I make not Jerusalem the beginning
of my joy. Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of
Jerusalem: who say, raze, raze it, even to the foundation thereof. O
daughter of Babylon, miserable: blessed be he who shall repay thee
thy payment which thou hast paid us.' In conclusion, my lords, I
wish to give my thanks to my attorney, Mr. Collins, for his untiring
exertions, and also to my counsel, Mr. Heron, for his able defence,
and to Mr. Waters."

* * * * *


In the evidence adduced at the Cork Summer Assizes of 1867, on the
trials of persons charged with participation in the Fenian rising of
March 5th, the name of Captain Mackay frequently turned up. The captain,
it would appear, was a person of influence and importance in the
insurrectionary army. He had taken part in many councils of the Fenian
leaders, he was trusted implicitly by his political friends, and much
deference was paid to his opinion. But more than all this, he had taken
the field on the night of the rising, led his men gallantly to the
attack of Ballyknockane police barrack, and, to the-great horror of all
loyal subjects, committed the enormous offence of capturing it. This,
and the similar successes achieved by Lennon at Stepaside and
Glencullen, county Wicklow, were some of the incidents of the attempted
rebellion which most annoyed the government, who well knew the influence
which such events, occurring at the outset of a revolutionary movement,
are apt to exercise on the popular mind. Captain Mackay, therefore, was
badly "wanted" by the authorities after the Fenian rising; there was any
money to be given for information concerning the whereabouts of Captain
Mackay, but it came not. Every loyal-minded policeman in Cork county,
and in all the other Irish counties, and every detective, and every spy,
and every traitor in the pay of the government, kept a sharp look out
for the audacious Captain Mackay, who had compelled the garrison of one
of her Majesty's police barracks to surrender to him, and hand him up
their arms in the quietest and most polite manner imaginable; but they
saw him not, or if they saw, they did not recognise him.

So month after month rolled on, and no trace of Captain Mackay could be
had. The vigilant guardians and servants of English law in Ireland, then
began to think he must have managed to get clear out of the country, and
rather expected that the next thing they would hear of him would be that
he was organizing and lecturing amongst the Irish enemies of England in
the United States. There, however, they were quite mistaken, as they
soon found out to their very great vexation and alarm.

On the 27th day of December, 1867, there was strange news in Cork, and
strange news all over the country, for the telegraph wires spread it in
every direction. The news was that on the previous evening a party of
Fenians had entered the Martello tower at Foaty, on the north side of
the Cork river, made prisoners of the gunners who were in charge, and
had then taken possession of, and borne away all the arms and ammunition
they could find in the place! Startling news this was undoubtedly. Loyal
men stopped each other in the streets, and asked if anything like it had
ever been heard of. They wanted to know if things were not coming to a
pretty pass, and did not hesitate to say they would feel greatly obliged
to anyone who could answer for them the question "What next?" For this
sack of the Martello tower was not the first successful raid for arms
which the Fenians had made in that neighbourhood. About a month
before--on the night of November 28th--they had contrived to get into
the shop of Mr. Richardson, gunmaker, Patrick-street, and abstract from
the premises no fewer than 120 revolvers and eight Snider rifles,
accomplishing the feat so skilfully, that no trace either of the weapons
or the depredators had since been discovered. This was what might be
called a smart stroke of work, but it shrunk into insignificance
compared with the audacious act of plundering one of her Majesty's
fortified stations.

The details of the affair, which were soon known, were received by the
public with mingled feelings of amusement and amazement. The Fenian
party, it was learned, had got into the tower by the usual means of
entrance--a step-ladder, reaching to the door, which is situate at some
height from the ground. One party of the invaders remained in the
apartment just inside the entrance door, while another numbering five
persons, proceeded to an inner room, where they found two of the
gunners, with their families, just in the act of sitting down to tea. In
an instant revolvers were placed at the heads of the men, who were told
not to stir on peril of their lives. At the same time assurances were
given to them, and to the affrighted women, that if they only kept quiet
and complied with the demands of the party no harm whatever should befal
them. The garrison saw that resistance was useless, and promptly acceded
to those terms. The invaders then asked for and got the keys of the
magazine, which they handed out to their friends, who forthwith set to
work to remove the ammunition which they found stored in the vaults.
They seized about 300 lbs. of gunpowder, made up in 8 lb. cartridges, a
quantity of fuses, and other military stores, and then proceeded to
search the entire building for arms. Of these, however, they found very
little--nothing more than the rifles and sword bayonets of the two or
three men who constituted the garrison, a circumstance which seemed to
occasion them much disappointment. They were particularly earnest and
pressing in their inquiries for hand-grenades, a species of missile
which they had supposed was always kept "in stock" in such places. They
could scarcely believe that there were none to be had. Some charges of
grape-shot which they laid hands on might be, they thought, the sort of
weapon they were in quest of, and they proceeded to dissect and analyse
one of them. Grape-shot, we may explain to the unlearned in these
matters, is "an assemblage, in the form of a cylindrical column, of nine
balls resting on a circular plate, through which passes a pin serving as
an axis. The balls are contained in a strong canvas bag, and are bound
together on the exterior of the latter by a cord disposed about the
column in the manner of a net." This was not the sort of thing the
Fenian party wanted; grape-shot could be of no use to them, for the
Fenian organization, to its great sorrow, was possessed of no artillery;
they resolved, therefore, to leave those ingeniously-constructed
packages behind them, and to retire with the more serviceable spoils
they had gathered. While the search was proceeding, the Fenian sentries,
with revolvers ready in their hands, stood guard over the gunners, and
prevented anyone--young or old--from quitting the room. They spoke
kindly to all however, chatted with the women, and won the affectionate
regards of the youngsters by distributing money among them. One of these
strange visitors became so familiar as to tell one of the women that if
she wished to know who he was, his name was Captain Mac--a piece of
information which did not strike her at the time as being of any
peculiar value. When the party had got their booty safely removed from
the building, this chivalrous captain and his four assistant sentries
prepared to leave; they cautioned the gunners, of whom there were three
at this time in the building--one having entered while the search was
proceeding--against quitting the fort till morning, stating that men
would be on the watch outside to shoot them if they should attempt it.
So much being said and done, they bade a polite good evening to her
Majesty's gunners and their interesting families, and withdrew.

The heroic garrison did not venture out immediately after they had been
relieved of the presence of the Fenian party; but finding that a few
charges of powder were still stowed away in a corner of the fort, they
hurried with them to the top of the building and commenced to blaze away
from the big gun which was there _in situ_. This performance they meant
as a signal of distress; but though the sounds were heard and the
flashes seen far and wide, no one divined the object of what appeared to
be nothing more than an oddly-timed bit of artillery practice. Next
morning the whole story was in every one's mouth. Vast was the amusement
which it afforded to the Corkonians generally, and many were the
encomiums which they passed on the dashing Irish-Americans and smart
youths of Cork's own town who had accomplished so daring and clever a
feat. Proportionally great was the irritation felt by the sprinkling of
loyalists and by the paid servants of the crown in that quarter. One
hope at all events the latter party had, that the leader in the
adventure would soon be "in the hands of justice," and one comforting
assurance, that never again would the Fenians be able to replenish their
armoury in so easy and so unlawful a manner.

Four days afterwards there was another "sensation" in Cork. The Fenian
collectors of arms had made another haul! And this time their mode of
action surpassed all their previous performances in coolness and daring.
At nine o'clock in the morning, on the 30th of December, eight men, who
had assumed no disguise, suddenly entered the shop of Mr. Henry Allport,
gunmaker, of Patrick-street, and producing revolvers from their pockets,
covered him and his two assistants, telling then at the same time that
if they ventured to stir, or raise any outcry, they were dead men. While
the shopmen remained thus bound to silence, five of the party proceeded
to collect all the rifles and revolvers in the establishment, and place
them in a canvas sack which had been brought for the purpose. This sack,
into which a few guns and seventy-two splendid revolvers of the newest
construction had been put, was then carried off by two men, who, having
transferred the contents to the safe-keeping of some confederates,
returned with it very quickly to receive and bear away a large quantity
of revolver cartridges which had been found in the shop. This second
"loot" having been effected, the guards who stood over Mr. Allport and
his men, lowered their weapons, and after cautioning all three not to
dare to follow them, quitted the shop in a leisurely manner, and
disappeared down one of the by-streets. As soon as he was able to
collect his scattered wits, Mr. Allport rushed to the nearest police
station, and gave information of what had occurred. The police hastened
to the scene of this daring exploit, but of course "the birds were
flown," and no one could say whither.

Needless to say how this occurrence intensified the perplexity and the
rage of the government party in all parts of the country. There was
surely some fierce swearing in Dublin Castle on the day that news
arrived, and perhaps many a passionate query blurted out as to whether
police, detectives, magistrates, and all in that southern district were
not secretly in league with the rebels. In fact, a surmise actually got
into the papers that the proprietors of the gunshops knew more about the
disappearance of the arms, and were less aggrieved by the "seizure" than
they cared to acknowledge. However this might be, the popular party
enjoyed the whole thing immensely, laughed over it heartily, and
expressed in strong terms their admiration of the skill and daring
displayed by the operators. The following squib, which appeared in the
_Nation_ at the time, over the initials "T.D.S.," affords an indication
of the feelings excited among Irish nationalists by those extraordinary


Oh, the gallant Cork men,
Mixed with New York men,
I'm sure their equals they can't be found,
For persevering
In deeds of daring,
They set men staring the world around.
No spies can match them,
No sentries watch them,
No specials catch them or mar their play,
While the clever Cork men
And cute New York men
Work new surprises by night and day.

Sedate and steady,
Calm, quick, and ready,
They boldly enter, and make no din.
Where'er such trifles
As Snider rifles
And bright six-shooters are stored within.
The Queen's round towers
Can't baulk their powers,
Off go the weapons by sea and shore,
To where the Cork men
And smart New York men
Are daily piling their precious store.

John Bull, in wonder,
With voice like thunder,
Declares such plunder he roust dislike,
They next may rowl in
And sack Haulbowline,
Or on a sudden run off with Spike.
His peace is vanished,
His joys are banished,
And gay or happy no more he'll be,
Until those Cork men
And wild New York men
Are sunk together beneath the sea.

Oh, bold New York men
And daring Cork men,
We own your pleasures should all grow dim,
On thus discerning
And plainly learning
That your amusement gives pain to _him_.
Yet, from the nation,
This salutation
Leaps forth, and echoes with thunderous sound--
"Here's to all Cork men,
Likewise New York men,
Who stand for Ireland, the world around!"

But Captain Mackay, skilful and "lucky" as he was, was trapped at last.

On the evening of the 7th of February, 1868, he walked into the grocery
and spirit shop of Mr. Cronin in Market-street--not to drink whiskey or
anything of that sort, for he was a man of strictly temperate habits,
and he well knew that of all men those who are engaged in the dangerous
game of conspiracy and revolution can least afford to partake of drinks
that may unloose their tongues and let their wits run wild. He called
for a glass of lemonade, and recognising some persons who were in the
shop at the time, he commenced a conversation with them.

Only a few minutes from the time of his entrance had elapsed when a
party of police, wearing a disguise over their uniforms, rushed into the
shop, and commanded the door to be shut.

The men inside attempted to separate and escape, but they were
instantly grappled by the police. One of the force seized Captain Mackay
by the collar, and a vigorous struggle between them at once commenced.
The policeman was much the larger man of the two, but the Fenian Captain
was wiry and muscular, and proved quite a match for him. They fell, and
rose, and fell, and rose again, the policeman undermost sometimes, and
at other times the Fenian Captain. They struggled for nearly twenty

"Dead or alive, I'll take you," said the policeman, as he drew his
revolver from his pocket.

"I have but one life, to lose, and if it goes, so be it," replied Mackay
drawing a weapon of the same kind.

In another instant there was a clash as of striking steel, and a
discharge of one of the weapons.

"Good God! I'm shot!" exclaimed Constable Casey from, the end of the
room, and he fell upon the floor.

Captain Mackay's revolver had gone off in the struggle, and the ball had
struck the constable in the leg, inflicting on him a serious wound.

By this time several parties of police had arrived in the street and
stationed themselves so as to prevent the formation of a crowd and deter
the people from any attempt at rescue. A reinforcement having turned
into the house in which the struggle was going on, Captain Mackay and
others who had been in his company were made prisoners, and marched off
in custody.

Some days afterwards, the wounded constable, who had refused to submit
to amputation of the wounded limb, died in hospital.

On the 10th of March, 1868, at the Cork Assizes, Judge O'Hagan
presiding, Captain Mackay was put on his trial for murder. The evidence
established a probability that the discharge of the prisoner's revolver
was not intended or effected by him, but was a consequence of its having
been struck by the revolver of the policeman who was struggling with
him. The verdict of the jury therefore was one of acquittal.

But then came the other charge against him, the charge of
treason-felony, for his connexion with the Fenian Brotherhood, and his
part in the recent "rising." For this he was put on trial on the 20th
day of March. He was ably defended by Mr. Heron, Q.C.; but the evidence
against him was conclusive. To say nothing of the testimony of the
informers, which should never for a moment be regarded as trustworthy,
there was the evidence and the identification supplied by the gunners of
the Martello tower and their wives, and the policemen of Ballyknockane
station and the wife of one of them. This evidence while establishing
the fact that the prisoner had been concerned in the levying of war
against the crown, established also the fact that he was a man as
chivalrous and gentle as he was valorous and daring. Some of the
incidents proved to have occurred during the attack which was made,
under his leadership, on the police barrack, are worthy of special
mention in any sketch, however brief, of the life and adventures of this
remarkable man. After he, at the head of his party, had demanded the
surrender of the barrack in the name of the Irish Republic, the police
fired, and the fire was returned. Then the insurgents broke in the door
and set fire to the lower part of the barrack. Still the police held
out. "Surrender!" cried the insurgents; "_You want to commit suicide,
but we don't want to commit murder._" One of the policemen then cried
out that a little girl, his daughter, was inside, and asked if the
attacking party would allow her to be passed out? Of course they would,
gladly; and the little girl was taken out of the window with all
tenderness, and given up to her mother who had chanced to be outside the
barrack when the attack commenced. At this time a Catholic clergyman,
the Rev. Mr. Neville, came on the spot. He asked the insurgent leader
whether, if the police surrendered, any harm would be done to them?
"Here is my revolver," said Captain Mackay, "let the contents of it be
put through me if one of them should be injured." Well did Mr. Heron in
his able speech, referring to these facts, say, "Though they were rebels
who acted that heroic part, who could say their hearts, were not
animated with the courage of Leonidas, and the chivalry of Bayard."

On the second day of the trial the jury brought in their verdict,
declaring the prisoner guilty, but at the same time recommending him to
the merciful consideration of the court, because of the humanity which
he had displayed towards the men whom he had in his power. The finding
took no one by surprise, and did not seem to trouble the prisoner in the
faintest degree. During the former trial some shades of anxiety might
have been detected on his features; the charge of "murder" was grievous
to him, but when that was happily disposed of, the world seemed to
brighten before him, and he took his treason-felony trial cheerily. He
knew what the verdict on the evidence would be, and he was conscious
that the penalty to be imposed on him would be no trivial one; he felt
that it was hard to part from faithful comrades, and dear friends, and,
above all, from the young wife whom he had married only a few short
months before; but then it was in Ireland's cause he was about to
suffer, and for that he could endure all.

And yet, Ireland was not his native land. He was born in Cincinnatti,
Ohio, in the year 1841. But his parents, who were natives of
Castle-Lyons, near Fermoy, in the County Cork, were true children of
Erin, and they taught their son to love, even as they did themselves,
that green isle far away, from which a hard fate had compelled them to
roam. Patriotism, indeed, was hereditary in the family. The
great-grandfather of our hero suffered death for his fidelity to the
cause of Ireland in the memorable year 1798; and a still-more remarkable
fact is that Captain Mackay--or William Francis Lomasney, to call him by
his real name--in leaving America for Ireland in 1865 to take part in
the contemplated rising, merely took the place which his father wished
and intended to occupy. The young man induced him, to remain at home,


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