The Wearing of the Green
A.M. Sullivan

Part 2 out of 2

reprehending the Fenian conspiracy at a time when Lord Mayo's organ
was patting it on the back for its 'fine Sardinian spirit'--would
these ministers of religion drape their churches for three common
murderers? I repel as a calumnious and slanderous accusation against
the Catholic clergy of Ireland this charge, that by their mourning
for those three martyred Irishmen, they expressed sympathy, directly
or indirectly, with murder or life-taking. If an act be seditious, it
is not the less illegal in the church than in the graveyard, or on
the road to the cemetery. Are we, then, to understand that our
churches are to be invaded by bands of soldiery, and our priests
dragged from the altars, for the seditious crime of proclaiming
aloud their belief in the innocence of Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien?
This, sir, is what depends on the decision in this case, here or
elsewhere. All this and more. It is to be decided whether, in their
capacity of Privy Councillors, the judges of the land shall put forth
a proclamation the legality or binding force of which they will
afterwards sit as judges to try. It is whether, there being no
constitution now allowed to exist in the country, there is to be no
law save what a Castle proclamation will construct, permit, or
decree; no mourning save what the police will license; no
demonstration of opinion save whatever accords with the government
views. We hear much of the liberties enjoyed in this country. No
doubt, we have fine constitutional rights and securities, until the
very time they are most required. When we have no need to invoke
them, they are permitted to us; but at the only time when they might
be of substantial value, they are, as the phrase goes, "suspended."
Who, unless in times of governmental panic, need apprehend
unwarranted arrest? When else is the _Habeas Corpus_ Act of such
considerable protection to the subject? When, unless when the crown
seeks to invade public liberty, is the purity and integrity of trial
by jury of such value and importance in political cases? Yet all the
world knows that the British government, whenever such a conflict
arises, juggles and packs the jury--

Mr. Dix--I really cannot allow that language to be used in this
court, Mr. Sullivan, with every disposition to accord you, as an
accused person, the amplest limits in your observations. Such
language goes beyond what I can permit--

Mr. Sullivan--I, at once, in respect for your worship, retract the
word juggle. I will say the crown manipulates the jury.

Mr. Dix--I can't at all allow this line of comment to be pursued--

Mr. Sullivan--With all respect for your worship, and while I am ready
to use any phrase most suitable for utterance here, I will not give
up my right to state and proclaim the fact, however unpalatable, when
it is notoriously true. I stand upon my rights to say, that you have
all the greater reason to pause, ere you send me, or any other
citizen, for trial before a jury in a crown prosecution at a moment
like the present, when trial by jury, as the theory of the
constitution supposes it, does not exist in the land. I say there is
now notoriously no fair trial by jury to be had in this country, as
between the subject and the crown. Never yet, in an important
political case, have the government in this country dared to allow
twelve men indifferently chosen, to pass into the jury-box to try the
issue between the subject and the crown. And now, sir, if you send
the case for trial, and suppose the government succeed by the juries
they are able to empanel here, with 'Fenian' ticketed on the backs of
the accused by the real governors of the country--the Heygates and
the Bruces--and if it is declared by you that in this land of
mourning it has become at last criminal even to mourn--what a victory
for the crown! Oh, sir, they have been for years winning such
victories, and thereby manufacturing conspiracies--driving people
from the open and legitimate expression of their sentiments into
corners to conspire and to hide. I stand here as a man against whom
some clamour has been raised for my efforts to save my countrymen
from the courses into which the government conduct has been driving
them, and I say that there is no more revolutionary agent in the land
than that persecution of authority which says to the people, "When we
strike you, we forbid you to weep." We meet the crown, foot to foot,
on its case here. We say we have committed no offence, but that the
prosecution against us has been instituted to subserve their party
exigencies, and that the government is straining and violating the
law. We challenge them to the issue, and even should they succeed in
obtaining from a crown jury a verdict against us, we have a wider
tribunal to appeal to--the decision of our own consciences and the
judgment of humanity (applause).

Mr. Murphy, Q.C., briefly replied. He asked his worship not to decide
that the procession was illegal, but that this case was one for a
court of law and a jury.

On this occasion it was unnecessary for Mr. Dix to take any "time to
consider his decision." All the accused were bound over in their own
recognizances to stand their trials at the forthcoming Commission in
Green-street court, on the 10th of February, 1868.

The plunge which the crown officials had shivered so long before
attempting had now been taken, and they determined to go through with
the work, _a l'outrance_. In the interval between the last police-court
scene described above, and the opening of the Green-street Commission,
in February, 1868, prosecutions were directly commenced against the
_Irishman_ and the _Weekly News_ for seditious writing. In the case of
the former journal the proprietor tried some skilfully-devised
preparatory legal moves and manoeuvers, not one of which of course
succeeded, though their justice and legality were apparent enough. In
the case of the latter journal--the _Weekly News_--the proprietor raised
no legal point whatsoever. The fact was that when he found the crown not
content with _one_ state prosecution against him (that for the funeral
procession), coming upon him with _a second_, he knew his doom was
sealed. He very correctly judged that legal moves would be all in
vain--that his conviction, _per fas aut ne fas_, was to be
obtained--that a jury would be packed against him--and that consequently
the briefest and most dignified course for him would be to go straight
to the conflict and meet it boldly.

On Monday, 10th February, 1868, the commission was opened in
Green-street, Dublin, before Mr. Justice Fitzgerald and Baron Deasy.
Soon a cunning and unworthy legal trick on the part of the crown was
revealed. The prosecuted processionists and journalists had been
indicted in the _city_ venue, had been returned for trial to the _city_
commission by a _city_ jury. But the government at the last moment
mistrusted a city jury in this instance--even a _packed_ city jury--and
without any notice to the traversers, sent the indictments before the
_county_ grand jury, so that they might be tried by a jury picked and
packed from the anti-Irish oligarchy of the Pale. It was an act of gross
illegality, hardship, and oppression. The illegality of such a course
had been ruled and decided in the case of Mr. Gavan Duffy in 1848. But
the point was raised vainly now. When Mr. Pigott, of the _Irishman_, was
called to plead, his counsel (Mr. Heron, Q.C.) insisted that he, the
traverser, was now in custody of the _city_ sheriff in accordance with
his recognizances, and could not without legal process be removed to the
county venue. An exciting encounter ensued between Mr. Heron and the
crown counsel, and the court took till next day to decide the point.
Next morning it was decided in favour of the crown, and Mr. Pigott was
about being arraigned, when, in order that he might not be prejudiced by
having attended pending the decision, the attorney-general said, "he
would shut his eyes to the fact that that gentleman was now in court,"
and would have him called immediately--an intimation that Mr. Pigott
might, if advised, try the course of refusing to appear. He did so
refuse. When next called, Mr. Pigott was not forthcoming, and on the
police proceeding to his office and residence that gentleman was not to
be found--having, as the attorney-general spitefully expressed it, "fled
from justice." Mr. Sullivan's case, had, of necessity, then to be
called; and this was exactly what the crown had desired to avoid, and
what Mr. Heron had aimed to secure. It was the secret of all the
skirmishing. A very general impression prevailed that the crown would
fail in getting a jury to convict Mr. Sullivan on any indictment
tinctured even ever so faintly with "Fenianism;" and it was deemed of
great importance to Mr. Pigott's case to force the crown to begin with
the one in which failure was expected--Mr. Sullivan having intimated his
perfect willingness to be either pushed to the front or kept to the
last, according as might best promise to secure the discomfiture of the
government. Mr. Heron had therefore so far out-manoeuvered the crown.
Mr. Sullivan appeared in court and announced himself ready for trial,
and the next morning was fixed for his arraignment. Up to this moment,
that gentleman had expressed his determination not only to discard legal
points, but to decline ordinary professional defence, and to address the
jury in his own behalf. Now, however, deferring to considerations
strongly pressed on him (set forth in his speech to the jury in the
funeral procession case), he relinquished this resolution; and, late on
the night preceding his trial, entrusted to Mr. Heron, Q.C., Mr. Crean,
and Mr. Molloy, his defence on this first prosecution.

Next morning, Saturday, 15th February, 1868, the trial commenced; a jury
was duly packed by the "stand-by" process, and notwithstanding a charge
by Justice Fitzgerald, which was, on the whole one of the fairest heard
in Ireland in a political case for many years, Mr. Sullivan was duly
convicted of having, by pictures and writings in his journal the _Weekly
News_, seditiously brought the crown and government into hatred and

The government officials were jubilant. Mr. Pigott was next arraigned,
and after an exceedingly able defence by Mr. Heron, was likewise

It was now very generally concluded that the government would be
satisfied with these convictions, and would not proceed with the funeral
procession cases. At all events, it was universally regarded as certain
that Mr. Sullivan would not be arraigned on the second or funeral
procession indictment, as he now stood convicted on the other--the press
charge. But it was not to be so. Elate with their success, the crown
officials thought they might even discard their doubts of a city jury;
and on Thursday morning, 20th February, 1868, John Martin, Alexander M.
Sullivan, Thomas Bracken, and J.J. Lalor,[A] were formally arraigned in
the _city_ venue. [Footnote A: Dr. Waters, in the interval since his
committal on this charge, had been arrested, and was now imprisoned,
under the Suspension of the _Habeas Corpus_ Act. He was not brought to
trial on the procession charge.]

It was a scene to be long remembered, that which was presented in the
Green-street court-house on that Thursday morning. The dogged
vindictiveness of the crown officials, in persisting with this second
prosecution, seemed to have excited intense feeling throughout the city,
and long before the proceedings opened the court was crowded in every
part with anxious spectators. When Mr. Martin entered, accompanied by
his brother-in-law, Dr. Simpson, and Mr. Ross Todd, and took his seat at
the travelers' bar, a low murmur of respectful sympathy, amounting to
applause, ran through the building. And surely it was a sight to move
the heart to see this patriot--this man of pure and stainless life,
this man of exalted character, of noble soul, and glorious
principles--standing once more in that spot where twenty years before he
stood confronting the same foe in the same righteous and holy
cause--standing once more at that bar whence, twenty years before, he
was led off manacled to a felon's doom for the crime of loving Ireland!
Many changes had taken place in the interval, but over the stern
integrity of _his_ soul time had wrought no change. He himself seemed to
recall at this moment his last "trial" scene on this spot, and, as he
cast his gaze around, one could detect on his calm thoughtful face
something of sadness, yet of pride, as memory doubtless pictured the
spectacle of twenty years ago.

Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Bracken, and Mr. Lalor, arrived soon after, and
immediately the judges appeared on the bench the proceedings began.

On their lordships, Mr. Justice Fitzgerald and Mr. Baron Deasy,
taking their seats upon the bench,

Mr. Smartt (deputy clerk of the crown) called upon John Martin,
Alexander M. Sullivan, John J. Lalor, and Thomas Bracken, to come and
appear as they were bound to do in discharge of their recognizances.

All the traversers answered.

Mr. Smartt then proceeded to arraign the traversers under an
indictment charging in the first count--"That John Martin, John C.
Waters, John J. Lalor, Alexander M. Sullivan, and Thomas Bracken,
being malicious, seditious, and ill-disposed persons, and intending
to disturb the peace and tranquillity of the realm, and to excite
discontent and disaffection, and to excite the subjects of our Lady
the Queen in Ireland to hatred and dislike of the government, the
laws, and the administration of the laws of this realm, on the 8th
day of December, in the year of our Lord, 1867, unlawfully did
assemble and meet together with divers other persons, amounting to a
large number--to wit, fifteen thousand persons--for the purpose of
exciting discontent and disaffection, and for the purpose of exciting
her Majesty's subjects in Ireland to hatred of her government and the
laws of this realm, in contempt of our Lady the Queen, in open
violation of the laws of this realm, and against the peace of our
Lady the Queen, her crown and dignity." The second count charged that
the defendants intended "to cause it to be believed that the three
men who had been duly tried, found guilty, and sentenced, according
to law, for murder, at Manchester, in England, had been illegally and
unjustly executed; and to excite hatred, dislike, and disaffection
against the administration of justice, and the laws of this realm,
for and in respect of the execution of the said three men." A third
count charged the publication at the unlawful assembly laid in the
first and second counts of the false and seditious words contained in
Mr. John Martin's speech. A fourth and last count was framed under
the Party Processions' Act, and charged that the defendants "did
unlawfully meet, assemble, and parade together, and were present at
and did join in a procession with divers others, and did bear, wear,
and have amongst them in said procession certain emblems and symbols,
the display whereof was calculated to and did tend to provoke
animosity between different classes of her Majesty's subjects,
against the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and
against the peace of our Lady the Queen, her crown and dignity."

The traversers severally pleaded not guilty.

The Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General, Dr. Ball, Q.C.; Mr.
Charles Shaw, Q.C.; Mr. James Murphy, Q.C.; Mr. R.H. Owen, Q.C.; and
Mr. Edward Beytagh, instructed by Mr. Anderson, Crown Solicitor,
appeared to prosecute.

Mr. Martin, Mr. Sullivan, and Mr. Bracken were not professionally

Mr. Michael T. Crean, instructed by Mr. John T. Scallan, appeared for
Mr. Lalor.

And now came the critical stage of the case. _Would the crown pack the
jury?_ The clerk of the crown began to call the panel, when--

John Keegan was called and ordered to stand by on the part of the

Mr. Sullivan--My lord, have I any right to challenge?

Mr. Justice Fitzgerald--You have Mr. Sullivan, for cause.

Mr. Sullivan--And can the crown order a juror to stand by without a
cause assigned?

Mr. Justice Fitzgerald--The crown has a right to exercise that

Mr. Sullivan--Well, I will exercise no challenge, for cause or
without cause. Let the crown select a jury now as it pleases.

Subsequently George M'Cartney was called, and directed to stand by.

Patrick Ryan was also ordered to stand by.

Mr. Martin--I protest against this manner of selecting a jury. I do
so publicly.

J.J. Lalor--I also protest against it.

Thomas Bracken--And I also.

The sensation produced by this scene embarrassed the crown officials not
a little. It dragged to light the true character of their proceeding.
Eventually the following twelve gentlemen were suffered by the crown to
pass into the box as a "jury"--[Footnote: Not one Catholic was allowed
to pass into the box. Every Catholic who came to the box was ordered to
"_Stand by_."]


The Solicitor-General, Mr. Harrison, stated the case for the
prosecution. Next the police repeated their evidence--their description
of the procession--as given before the magistrates, and the government
short-hand writer proved Mr. Martin's speech. The only witnesses now
produced who had not testified at the preliminary stage were a
Manchester policeman named Seth Bromley, who had been one of the van
escort on the day of the rescue, and the degraded and infamous crown
spy, Corridon. The former--eager as a beagle on the scent to run down
the prey before him--left the table amidst murmurs of derision and
indignation evoked by his over-eagerness on his direct examination, and
his "fencing" and evasion on cross-examination. The spy Corridon was
produced "to prove the existence of the Fenian conspiracy." Little
notice was taken of him. Mr. Crean asked him barely a trivial question
or two. Mr. Martin and Mr. Sullivan, when asked if they desired to
cross-examine him, replied silently by gestures of loathing; and the
wretch left the table--crawled from it--like a crippled murderer from
the scene of his crime.

This closed the case for the crown, and Mr. Crean, counsel for Mr.
Lalor, rose to address the jury on behalf of his client. His speech was
argumentative, terse, forcible, and eloquent; and seemed to please and
astonish not only the auditors but the judges themselves, who evidently
had not looked for so much ability and vigour in the young advocate
before them. Although the speeches of professional advocates do not come
within the scope of this publication, Mr. Crean's vindication of the
national colour of Ireland--probably the most telling passage in his
address--has an importance which warrants its quotation here:--

Gentlemen, it is attempted in this case to make the traversers
amenable under the Party Processions' Act, because those in the
procession wore green ribbons. Gentlemen, this is the first time, in
the history of Irish State Prosecutions which mark the periods of
gloom and peril in this country, that the wearing of a green ribbon
has been formally indicted; and I may say it is no good sign of the
times that an offence which has been hitherto unknown to the law
should now crop up for the first time in this year of grace, one
thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight. Not even in the worst days of
Lord Castlereagh's ill-omened regime was such an attempt as this made
to degrade the green of Ireland into a party colour, and to make that
which has long been regarded as a national emblem the symbol of a
faction. Gentlemen, there is no right-minded or right-hearted
man--looking back upon the ruinous dissensions and bitter conflicts
which have been the curse and bane of this country--who will not
reprobate any effort to revive and perpetuate them. There is no
well-disposed man in the community who will not condemn and crush
those persons--no matter on what side they may stand--who make
religion, which should be the fountain and mother of all peace and
blessings, the cause of rancour and animosity. We have had,
unhappily, gentlemen, too much of this in Ireland. We have been too
long the victims of that wayward fate of which the poet wrote, when
he said:--

"Whilst our tyrants join in hate,
We never joined in love."

But, gentlemen, I will ask of you if you ever before heard, until
this time, that the green of Ireland was the peculiar colour of any
particular sect, creed, or faction, or that any of the people of this
country wore it as the peculiar emblem of their party, and for the
purpose of giving annoyance and of offering insult to some other
portion of their fellow-countrymen. I must say that I never heard
before that Catholic or Protestant, or Quaker or Moravian, laid claim
to this colour as a symbol of party. I thought all Irishmen, no
matter what altar they bowed before, regarded the green as the
national colour of Ireland. If it is illegal to wear the green, all I
can say is that the Constabulary are guilty of a constant and
continuing breach of the law. The Lord and Lady Lieutenant will
probably appear on next Patrick's Day, decorated with large bunches
of green shamrock. Many of the highest officials of the government
will do the same; and is it to be thought for one moment that they,
by wearing this green emblem of Ireland and of Irish nationality, are
violating the law of the land. Gentlemen, it is perfectly absurd to
think so. I hope this country has not yet so fallen as that it has
become a crime to wear the green. I trust we have not yet come to
that pass of national degradation, that a jury of Irishmen can be
found so forgetful of their country's dignity and of their own as to
brand with a mark of infamy a colour which is associated with so many
recollections, not of party triumphs, but of national glories--not
with any sect, or creed, or party, but with a nation and a race whose
children, whether they were the exiled soldiers of a foreign state,
or the soldiers of Great Britain--whether at Fontenoy or on the
plains of Waterloo, or on the heights of Fredericksburgh, have nobly
vindicated the chivalry and fame of Ireland! It is for them that the
green has its true meaning. It is to the Irishman in a distant land
this emblem is so dear, for it is entwined in his memory, not with
any miserable faction, but with the home and the country which gave
him birth. I do hope that Irishmen will never be ashamed in this
country to wear the green, and I hope an attempt will never again be
made in an Irish court of justice to punish Irishmen for wearing that
which is a national colour, and of which every man who values his
country should feel proud.

When Mr. Crean resumed his seat--which he did amidst strong
manifestations of applause--it was past three o'clock in the afternoon.
It was not expected that the case would have proceeded so far by that
hour, and Mr. Martin and Mr. Sullivan, who intended each to speak in his
own behalf, did not expect to rise for that purpose before next day,
when it was arranged that Mr. Martin would speak first, and Mr. Sullivan
follow him. Now, however, it was necessary some one of them should rise
to his defence, and Mr. Martin urged that Mr. Sullivan should begin.

By this time the attendance in court, which, during the
Solicitor-General's speech and the crown evidence, thinned down
considerably, had once more grown too great for the fair capacity of the
building. There was a crush within, and a crowd without. When Mr.
Sullivan was seen to rise, after a moment's hurried consultation with
Mr. Martin, who sat beside him, there was a buzz, followed by an anxious
silence. For a moment the accused paused, almost overcome (as well he
might have been) by a sense of the responsibility of this novel and
dangerous course. But he quickly addressed himself to the critical task
he had undertaken, and spoke as follows:--[Footnote: As Mr. Sullivan
delivered this speech without even the ordinary assistance of written
notes or memoranda, the report here quoted is that which was published
in the newspapers of the time. Some few inaccuracies which he was
precluded from correcting then (being a prisoner when this speech was
first published), have been corrected for this publication.]

My lords and gentlemen of the jury--I rise to address you under
circumstances of embarassment which will, I hope, secure for me a
little consideration and indulgence at your hands. I have to ask you
at the outset to banish any prejudice that might arise in your minds
against a man who adopts the singular course--who undertakes the
serious responsibility--of pleading his own defence. Such a
proceeding might be thought to be dictated either by disparagement of
the ordinary legal advocacy, by some poor idea of personal vanity, or
by way of reflection on the tribunal before which the defence is
made. My conduct is dictated by neither of these considerations or
influences. Last of all men living should I reflect upon the ability,
zeal, and fidelity of the Bar of Ireland, represented as it has been
in my own behalf within the past two days by a man whose heart and
genius are, thank God, still left to the service of our country, and
represented, too, as it has been here this day by that gifted young
advocate, the echoes of whose eloquence still resound in this court,
and place me at disadvantage in immediately following him. And
assuredly I design no disrespect to this court; either to tribunal in
the abstract, or to the individual judges who preside; from one of
whom I heard two days ago delivered in my own case a charge of which
I shall say--though followed by a verdict which already consigns me
to a prison--that it was, judging it as a whole, the fairest, the
clearest, the most just and impartial ever given to my knowledge, in
a political case of this kind in Ireland between the subject and the
crown. No; I stand here in my own defence to-day, because long since
I formed the opinion that, on many grounds, in such a prosecution as
this, such a course would be the most fair and most consistent for a
man like me. That resolution I was, for the sake of others, induced
to depart from on Saturday last, in the first prosecution against me.
When it came to be seen that I was the first to be tried out of two
journalists prosecuted, it was strongly urged on me that my course,
and the result of my trial, might largely affect the case of the
other journalist to be tried after, me; and that I ought to waive my
individual views and feelings, and have the utmost legal ability
brought to bear in behalf of the case of the national press at the
first point of conflict. I did so. I was defended by a bar not to be
surpassed in the kingdom for ability and earnest zeal; yet the result
was what I anticipated. For I knew, as I had held all along, that in
a case like this, where law and fact are left to the jury, legal
ability is of no avail if the crown comes in with its arbitrary power
of moulding the jury. In that case, as in this one, I openly,
publicly, and distinctly announced that I for my part would challenge
no one, whether with cause or without cause. Yet the crown--in the
face of this fact--and in a case where they knew that at least the
accused had no like power of peremptory challenge--did not venture to
meet me on equal footing; did not venture to abstain from their
practice of absolute challenge; in fine, did not dare to trust their
case to twelve men "indifferently chosen," as the constitution
supposes a jury to be. Now, gentlemen, before I enter further upon
this jury question, let me say that with me this is no complaint
merely against "the Tories." On this as well as on numerous other
subjects, it is well known that it has been my unfortunate lot to
arraign both Whigs and Tories. I say further, that I care not a jot
whether the twelve men selected or permitted by the crown to try me,
or rather to convict me, by twelve of my own co-religionists and
political compatriots, or twelve Protestants, Conservatives, Tories,
or "Orangemen." Understand me clearly on this. My objection is not to
the individuals comprising the jury. You may be all Catholics, or you
may be all Protestants, for aught that affects my protest, which is
against the mode by which you are selected--selected by the
crown--their choice for their own ends--and not "indifferently
chosen" between the crown and the accused. You may disappoint, or you
may justify the calculations of the crown official, who has picked
you out from the panel, by negative or positive choice (I being
silent and powerless)--you may or may not be all he supposes--the
outrage on the spirit of the constitution is the same. I say, by such
a system of picking a jury by the crown, I am not put upon my
country. Gentlemen, from the first moment these proceedings were
commenced against me, I think it will be admitted that I endeavoured
to meet them fairly and squarely, promptly and directly. I have never
once turned to the right or to the left, but gone straight to the
issue. I have from the outset declared my perfect readiness to meet
the charges of the crown. I did not care when or where they tried me.
I said I would avail of no technicality--that I would object to no
juror--Catholic, Protestant, or Dissenter. All I asked--all I
demanded--was to be "put upon my country," in the real, fair, and
full sense and spirit of the constitution. All I asked was that the
crown would keep its hand off the panel, as I would keep off mine. I
had lived fifteen years in this city; and I should have lived in
vain, if, amongst the men that knew me in that time, whatever might
be their political or religious creed, I feared to have my acts, my
conduct, or principles tried. It is the first and most original
condition of society that a man shall subordinate his public acts to
the welfare of the community, or at least acknowledge the right of
those amongst whom his lot is cast, to judge him on such an issue as
this. Freely I acknowledge that right. Readily have I responded to
the call to submit to the judgment of my country, the question
whether, in demonstrating my sorrow and sympathy for misfortune, my
admiration for fortitude, my vehement indignation against what I
considered to be injustice, I had gone too far and invaded the rights
of the community. Gentlemen, I desire in all that I have to say to
keep or be kept within what is regular and seemly, and above all to
utter nothing wanting in respect for the court; but I do say, and I
do protest, that I have not got trial by jury according to the spirit
and meaning of the constitution. It is as representatives of the
general community, not as representatives of the crown officials, the
constitution supposes you to sit in that box. If you do not fairly
represent the community, and if you are not empanelled indifferently
in that sense, you are no jury in the spirit of the constitution. I
care not how the crown practice may be within the technical letter of
the law, it violates the intent and meaning of the constitution, and
it is not "trial by jury." Let us suppose the scene removed, say, to
France. A hundred names are returned on what is called a panel by a
state functionary for the trial of a journalist charged with
sedition. The accused is powerless to remove any name from the list
unless for over-age or non-residence. But the imperial prosecutor has
the arbitrary power of ordering as many as he pleases to "stand
aside." By this means he puts or allows on the jury only whomsoever
he pleases. He can, beforehand, select the twelve, and, by wiping
out, if it suits him, the eighty-eight other names, put the twelve of
his own choosing into the box. Can this be called trial by jury?
Would not it be the same thing, in a more straightforward way, to let
the crown-solicitor send out a policeman and collect twelve
well-accredited persons of his own mind and opinion? For my own part,
I would prefer this plain-dealing, and consider far preferable the
more rude but honest hostility of a drum-head court martial (applause
in the court). Again I say, understand me well, I am objecting to the
principle, the system, the practice, and not to the twelve gentlemen
now before me as individuals. Personally, I am confident that being
citizens of Dublin, whatever your views or opinions, you are
honourable and conscientious men. You may have strong prejudices
against me or my principles in public life--very likely you have; but
I doubt not that though these may unconsciously tinge your judgment
and influence your verdict, you will not consciously violate the
obligations of your oath. And I care not whether the crown, in
permitting you to be the twelve, ordered three, or thirteen, or
thirty others to "stand by"--or whether those thus arbitrarily put
aside were Catholics or Protestants, Liberals, Conservatives, or
Nationalists--the moment the crown put its finger at all on the
panel, in a case where the accused had no equal right, the essential
character of the jury was changed, and the spirit of the constitution
was outraged. And now, what is the charge against my
fellow-traversers and myself? The solicitor-general put it very
pithily awhile ago when he said our crime was "glorifying the cause
of murder." The story of the crown is a very terrible, a very
startling one. It alleges a state of things which could hardly be
supposed to exist amongst the Thugs of India. It depicts a population
so hideously depraved that thirty thousand of them in one place, and
tens of thousands in various other places, arrayed themselves
publicly in procession to honour and glorify murder--to sympathise
with murderers as murderers. Yes, gentlemen, that is the crown case,
or they have no case at all--that the funeral procession in Dublin on
the 8th December last was a demonstration of sympathy with murder as
murder. For you will have noted that never once in his smart
narration of the crown story, did Mr. Harrison allow even the
faintest glimmer to appear of any other possible complexion or
construction of our conduct. Why, I could have imagined it easy for
him not merely to state his own case, but to state ours too, and show
where we failed, and where his own side prevailed. I could easily
imagine Mr. Harrison stating our view of the matter--and combatting
it. But he never once dared to even mention our case. His whole aim
was to hide it from you, and to fasten, as best such efforts of his
could fasten, in your minds this one miserable refrain--"They
glorified the cause of murder and assassination." But this is no new
trick. It is the old story of the maligners of our people. They call
the Irish a turbulent, riotous, crime-loving, law-hating race. They
are for ever pointing to the unhappy fact--for, gentlemen, it is a
fact--that between the Irish people and the laws under which they now
live there is little or no sympathy, but bitter estrangement and
hostility of feeling or of action. Bear with me if I examine this
charge, since an understanding of it is necessary in order to judge
our conduct on the 8th December last. I am driven upon this extent of
defence by the singular conduct of the solicitor-general, who, with a
temerity which he will repent, actually opened the page of Irish
history, going back upon it just so far as it served his own purpose,
and no farther. Ah! fatal hour for my prosecutors when they appealed
to history. For assuredly, that is the tribunal that will vindicate
the Irish people, and confound those who malign them as sympathisers
with assassination and glorifiers of murder--

Solicitor-General--My lord, I must really call upon you--I deny that
I ever--

Mr. Justice Fitzgerald--Proceed, Mr. Sullivan.

Mr. Sullivan--My lord, I took down the solicitor-general's words. I
quote them accurately as he spoke them, and he cannot get rid of them
now. "Glorifiers of the cause of murder" was his designation of my
fellow-traversers and myself, and our fifty thousand fellow-mourners
in the funeral procession; and before I sit down I will make him rue
the utterance. Gentlemen of the jury, if British law be held in
"disesteem"--as the crown prosecutors phrase it--here in Ireland,
there is an explanation for that fact, other than that supplied by
the solicitor-general; namely, the wickedness of seditious persons
like myself, and the criminal sympathies of a people ever ready to
"glorify the cause of murder." Mournful, most mournful, is the lot of
that land where the laws are not respected--nay, revered by the
people. No greater curse could befall a country than to have the laws
estranged from popular esteem, or in antagonism with the national
sentiment. Everything goes wrong under such a state of things. The
ivy will cling to the oak, and the tendrils of the vine reach forth
towards strong support. But more anxiously and naturally still does
the human heart instinctively seek an object of reverence and love,
as well as of protection and support, in law, authority, sovereignty.
At least, among a virtuous people like ours, there is ever a yearning
for those relations which are, and ought to be, as natural between a
people and their government as between the children and the parent. I
say for myself, and I firmly believe I speak the sentiments of most
Irishmen when I say, that so far from experiencing satisfaction, we
experience pain in our present relations with the law and governing
power; and we long for the day when happier relations may be restored
between the laws and the national sentiment in Ireland. We Irish are
no race of assassins or "glorifiers of murder." From the most remote
ages, in all centuries, it has been told of our people that they were
pre-eminently a justice-loving people. Two hundred and fifty years
ago the predecessor of the solicitor-general--an English
attorney-general--it may be necessary to tell the learned gentleman
that his name was Sir John Davis (for historical as well as
geographical knowledge[B] seems to be rather scarce amongst the
present law officers of the crown), (laughter)--held a very different
opinion of them from that put forth to-day by the solicitor-general.
Sir John Davis said no people in the world loved equal justice more
than the Irish even where the decision was against themselves. That
character the Irish have ever borne and bear still. But if you want
the explanation of this "disesteem" and hostility for British law,
you must trace effect to cause. It will not do to stand by the river
side near where it flows into the sea, and wonder why the water
continues to run by. Not I--not my fellow-traversers--not my
fellow-countrymen--are accountable for the antagonism between law and
popular sentiment in this country. Take up the sad story where you
will--yesterday, last month, last year, last century--two centuries
ago, three centuries, five centuries, six centuries--and what will
you find? English law presenting itself to the Irish people in a
guise forbidding sympathy or respect, and evoking fear and
resentment. Take it at its birth in this country. Shake your minds
free of legal theories and legal fictions, and deal with facts. This
court where I now stand is the legal and political heir, descendant,
and representative of the first law court of the Pale six or seven
centuries ago. Within that Pale were a few thousand English settlers,
and of them alone did the law take cognizance. The Irish nation--the
millions outside the Pale--were known only as "the king's Irish
enemie." The law classed them with the wild beasts of nature whom it
was lawful to slay. Later on in our history we find the Irish near
the Pale sometimes asking to be admitted to the benefits of English
law, since they were forbidden to have any of their own; but their
petitions were refused. Gentlemen, this was English law as it stood
towards the Irish people for centuries; and wonder, if you will, that
the Irish people held it in "disesteem:--[Footnote B: On Mr.
Sullivan's first trial the solicitor-general, until stopped and
corrected by the court, was suggesting to the jury that there was no
such place as Knockrochery, and that a Fenian proclamation which had
been published in the _Weekly News_ as having been posted at that
place, was, in fact, composed in Mr. Sullivan's Office. Mr. Justice
Deasy, however, pointedly corrected and reproved this blunder on the
part of Mr. Harrison.]

"The Irish were denied the right of bringing actions in any of
the English courts in Ireland for trespasses to their lands, or
for assaults or batteries to their persons. Accordingly, it was
answer enough to the action in such a case to say that the
plaintiff was an Irishman, unless he could produce a special
charter giving him the rights of an Englishman. If he sought
damage against an Englishman for turning him out of his land,
for the seduction of his daughter Nora, or for the beating of
his wife Devorgil, or for the driving off of his cattle, it was
a good defence to say he was a mere Irishman. And if an
Englishman was indicted for manslaughter, if the man slain was
an Irishman, he pleaded that the deceased was of the Irish
nation, and that it was no felony to kill an Irishman. For this,
however, there was a fine of five marks payable to the king; but
mostly they killed us for nothing. If it happened that the man
killed was a servant of an Englishman, he added to the plea of
the deceased being an Irishman, that if the master should ever
demand damages, he would be ready to satisfy him."

That was the egg of English law in Ireland. That was the seed--that
was the plant--do you wonder if the tree is not now esteemed and
loved? If you poison a stream at its source, will you marvel if down
through all its courses the deadly element is present? Now trace from
this, its birth, English law in Ireland--trace down to this hour--and
examine when or where it ever set itself to a reconciliation with the
Irish people. Observe the plain relevancy of this to my case. I, and
men like me, are held accountable for bringing law into hatred and
contempt in Ireland: and in presenting this charge against me the
solicitor-general appealed to history. I retort the charge on my
accusers; and I will trace down to our own day the relations of
hostility which English law itself established between itself and the
people of Ireland. Gentlemen, for four hundred years--down to
1607--the Irish people had no existence in the eye of the law; or
rather much worse, were viewed by it as "the King's Irish enemie."
But even within the Pale, how did it recommend itself to popular
reverence and affection? Ah, gentlemen, I will show that in those
days, just as there have been in our own, there were executions and
scaffold-scenes which evoked popular horror and resentment--though
they were all "according to law," and not be questioned unless by
"seditionists." The scaffold streamed with the blood of those whom
the people loved and revered--how could they love and revere the
scaffold? Yet, 'twas all "according to law." The sanctuary was
profaned and rifled; the priest was slain or banished--'twas all
"according to law," no doubt, and to hold law in "disesteem" is
"sedition." Men were convicted and executed "according to law;" yet
the people demonstrated sympathy for them, and resentment against
their executioners--most perversely, as a solicitor-general,
doubtless, would say. And, indeed, the State Papers contain accounts
of those demonstrations written by crown officials which sound very
like the solicitor-general's speech to-day. Take, for instance, the
execution--"according to law"--of the "Popish bishop" O'Hurley. Here
is the letter of a state functionary on the subject:--

"I could not before now so impart to her Majesty as to know her
mind touching the same for your lordship's direction. Wherefore,
she having at length resolved, I have accordingly, by her
commandment, to signify her Majesty's pleasure unto you touching
Hurley, which is this:--That the man being so notorious and ill
a subject, as appeareth by all the circumstances of his cause he
is, you proceed, if it may be, to his execution by ordinary
trial of him for it. How be it, in case you shall find the
effect of his course DOUBTFUL by reason of the affection of such
as shall be on his jury, and by reason of the supposal conceived
by the lawyers of that country, that he can hardly be found
guilty for his treason committed in foreign parts against her
Majesty. Then her pleasure is you take A SHORTER WAY WITH HIM,
by martial law. So, as you may see, it is referred to your
discretion, whether of those two ways your lordship will take
with him, and the man being so resolute to reveal no more
matter, it is thought best to have no FURTHER TORTURES used
against him, but that you proceed FORTHWITH TO HIS EXECUTION in
manner aforesaid. As for her Majesty's good acceptation of your
careful travail in this matter of Hurley, you need nothing to
doubt, and for your better assurance thereof she has commanded
me to let your lordship understand that, as well as in all
others the like, as in the case of Hurley, she cannot but
greatly allow and commend YOUR DOINGS."

Well, they put his feet into tin boots filled with oil, and then
placed him standing in the fire. Eventually they cut off his head,
tore out his bowels, and cut the limbs from his body. Gentlemen,
'twas all "according to law;" and to demonstrate sympathy for him and
"disesteem" of that law was "sedition." But do you wonder greatly
that law of that complexion failed to secure popular sympathy and
respect? One more illustration, gentlemen, taken from a period
somewhat later on. It is the execution--"according to law,"
gentlemen; entirely "according to law"--of another Popish bishop
named O'Devany. The account is that of a crown official of the
time--some most worthy predecessor of the solicitor-general. I read
it from the recently published work of the Rev. C.P. Meehaun. "On the
28th of January, the bishop and priest, being arraigned at the King's
Bench, were each condemned of treason, and adjudged to be executed
the Saturday following; which day being come, a priest, or two of the
Pope's brood, with holy water and other holy stuffs"--(no sneer was
that at all, gentlemen; no sneer at Catholic practices, for a crown
official never sneers at Catholic practices)--"were sent to sanctify
the gallows whereon they were to die. About two o'clock, p.m., the
traitors were delivered to the sheriffs of Dublin, who placed them in
a small car, which was followed by a great multitude. As the car
progressed the spectators knelt down; but the bishop sitting still,
like a block, would not vouchsafe them a word, or turn his head
aside. The multitude, however, following the car, made such a dole
and lamentation after him, as the heavens themselves resounded the
echoes of their outcries." (Actually a seditious funeral
procession--made up of the ancestors of those thirty-thousand men,
women, and children, who, according to the solicitor-general,
glorified the cause of murder on the 8th of last December.) "Being
come to the gallows, whither they were followed by troops of the
citizens, men and women of all classes, most of the best being
present, the latter kept up such a shrieking, such a howling, and
such a hallooing, as if St. Patrick himself had been gone to the
gallows, could not have made greater signs of grief; but when they
saw him turned from off the gallows, they raised the _whobub_ with
such a maine cry, as if the rebels had come to rifle the city. Being
ready to mount the ladder, when he was pressed by some of the
bystanders to speak, he repeated frequently _Sine me quaeso_. The
executioner had no sooner taken off the bishop's head, but the
townsmen of Dublin began to flock about him, some taking up the head
with pitying aspect, accompanied with sobs and sighs; some kissed it
with as religious an appetite as ever they kissed the Pax; some cut
away all the hair from the head, which they preserved for a relic;
some others were practisers to steal the head away, but the
executioner gave notice to the sheriffs. Now, when he began to
quarter the body, the women thronged about him, and happy was she
that could get but her handkerchief dipped in the blood of the
traitor; and the body being once dissevered in four quarters, they
neither left, finger nor toe, but they cut them off and carried them
away; and some others that could get no holy monuments that
appertained to his person, with their knives they shaved off chips
from the hallowed gallows; neither could they omit the halter
wherewith he was hanged, but it was rescued for holy uses. The same
night after the execution, a great crowd flocked about the gallows,
and there spent the fore part of the night in heathenish howling, and
performing many Popish ceremonies; and after midnight, being then
Candlemas day, in the morning having their priests present in
readiness, they had Mass after Mass till, daylight being come, they
departed to their own houses." There was "sympathy with sedition" for
you, gentlemen. No wonder the crown official who tells the
story--same worthy predecessor of Mr. Harrison--should be horrified
at such a demonstration. I will sadden you with no further
illustrations of English law, but I think it will be admitted that
after centuries of such law, one need not wonder if the people hold
it in "hatred and contempt." With the opening of the seventeenth
century, however, came a golden and glorious opportunity for ending
that melancholy--that terrible state of things. In the reign of James
I., English law, for the first time, extended to every corner of this
kingdom. The Irish came into the new order of things frankly and in
good faith; and if wise counsels prevailed then amongst our rulers,
oh, what a blessed ending there might have been to the bloody feud of
centuries. The Irish submitted to the Gaelic King, to whom had come
in the English crown. In their eyes he was of a friendly, nay of a
kindred race. He was of a line of Gaelic kings that had often
befriended Ireland. Submitting to him was not yielding to the brutal
Tudor. Yes, that was the hour, the blessed opportunity for laying the
foundation of a real union between the three kingdoms; a union of
equal national rights under the one crown. This was what the Irish
expected; and in this sense they in that hour accepted the new
dynasty. And it is remarkable that from that day to this, though
England has seen bloody revolutions and violent changes of rulers,
Ireland has ever held faithfully--too faithfully--to the sovereignty
thus adopted. But how were they received? How were their expectations
met? By persecution, proscription, and wholesale plunder, even by
that miserable Stuart. His son came to the throne. Disaffection broke
out in England and Scotland. Scottish Protestant Fenians, called
"Covenanters," took the field against him, because of the attempt to
establish Episcopalian Protestantism as a state church. By armed
rebellion against their lawful king, I regret to say it, they won
rights which now most largely tend to make Scotland contented and
loyal. I say it is to be regretted that those rights were thus won;
for I say that even at best it is a good largely mixed with evil
where rights are won by resorts of violence or revolution. His
concessions to the Calvanist Fenians in Scotland did not save
Charles. The English Fenians, under their Head Centre Cromwell, drove
him from the throne and murdered him on a scaffold in London. How did
the Irish meanwhile act? They stood true to their allegiance. They
took the field for the King. What was the result? They were given
over to slaughter and plunder by the brutal soldiery of the English
Fenians. Their nobles and gentry were beggared and proscribed; their
children were sold as white slaves to West Indian planters; and their
gallant struggles for the king, their sympathy for the royalist
cause, was actually denounced by the English Fenians as "sedition,"
"rebellion," "lawlessness," "sympathy with crime." Ah, gentlemen, the
evils thus planted in our midst will survive, and work their
influence; yet some men wonder that English law is held in
"disesteem" in Ireland. Time went on, gentlemen; time went on.
Another James sat on the throne; and again English Protestant
Fenianism conspired for the overthrow of their sovereign. They
invited "foreign emissaries" to come over from Holland and Sweden, to
begin the revolution for them. They drove their legitimate king from
the throne--never more to return. How did the Irish act in that hour?
Alas! Ever too loyal--ever only too ready to stand by the throne and
laws if only treated with justice or kindliness--they took the field
for the king, not against him. He landed on our shores; and had the
English Fenians rested content with rebelling themselves, and allowed
us to remain loyal as we desired to be, we might now be a
neighbouring but friendly and independent kingdom under the ancient
Stuart line. King James came here and opened his Irish parliament in
person. Oh, who will say in that brief hour at least the Irish nation
was not reconciled to the throne and laws? King, parliament, and
people, were blended in one element of enthusiasm, joy, and hope, the
first time for ages Ireland had known such a joy. Yes--

We, too, had our day--it was brief, it is ended--
When a King dwelt among us--no strange King--but OURS.
When the shout of a people delivered ascended,
And shook the green banner that hung on yon towers,
We saw it like leaves in the summer-time shiver;
We read the gold legend that blazoned it o'er--
"To-day--now or never; to-day and for ever"--
Oh, God! have we seen it to see it no more!

(Applause in court). Once more the Irish people bled and sacrificed
for their loyalty to the throne and laws. Once more confiscation
devastated the land, and the blood of the loyal and true was poured
like rain. The English Fenians and the foreign emissaries triumphed,
aided by the brave Protestant rebels of Ulster. King William came to
the throne--a prince whose character is greatly misunderstood in
Ireland: a brave, courageous soldier, and a tolerant man, could he
have had his way. The Irish who had fought and lost, submitted on
terms, and had law even now been just or tolerant, it was open to the
revolutionary _regime_ to have made the Irish good subjects. But what
took place? The penal code came, in all its horror to fill the Irish
heart with hatred and resistance. I will read for you what a
Protestant historian--a man of learning and ability--who is now
listening to me in this court--has written of that code. I quote
"Godkin's History," published by Cassell of London:--

"The eighteenth century," says Mr. Godkin, "was the era of
persecution, in which the law did the work of the sword more
effectually and more safely. Then was established a code framed
with almost diabolical ingenuity to extinguish natural
affection--to foster perfidy and hypocrisy--to petrify
conscience--to perpetuate brutal ignorance--to facilitate the
work of tyranny--by rendering the vices of slavery inherent and
natural in the Irish character, and to make Protestantism almost
irredeemably odious as the monstrous incarnation of all moral

Gentlemen, in that fell spirit English law addressed itself to a
dreadful purpose here in Ireland; and, mark you, that code prevailed
down to our own time; down to this very generation. "Law" called on
the son to sell his father; called on the flock to betray the pastor.
"Law" forbade us to educate--forbid us to worship God in the faith of
our fathers. "Law" made us outcasts--scourged us, trampled us,
plundered us--do you marvel that, amongst the Irish people, law has
been held in "disesteem?" Do you think this feeling arises from
"sympathy with assassination or murder?" Yet, if we had been let
alone, I doubt not that time would have fused the conquerors and the
conquered, here in Ireland, as elsewhere. Even while the millions of
the people were kept outside the constitution, the spirit of
nationality began to appear; and under its blessed influence
toleration touched the heart of the Irish-born Protestant. Yes--thank
God--thank God, for the sake of our poor country, where sectarian
bitterness has wrought such wrong--it was an Irish Protestant
Parliament that struck off the first link of the penal chain. And lo!
once more, for a bright brief day, Irish national sentiment was in
warm sympathy and heartfelt accord with the laws. "Eighty-two" came.
Irish Protestant patriotism, backed by the hearty sympathy of the
Catholic millions, raised up Ireland to a proud and glorious
position; lifted our country from the ground, where she lay prostrate
under the sword of England--but what do I say? This is "sedition." It
has this week been decreed sedition to picture Ireland thus.[C] Well,
then, they rescued her from what I will call the loving embrace of
her dear sister Britannia, and enthroned her in her rightful place, a
queen among the nations. Had the brightness of that era been
prolonged--picture it, think of it--what a country would ours be now?
Think of it! And contrast what we are with what we might be! Compare
a population filled with burning memories--disaffected, sullen,
hostile, vengeful--with a people loyal, devoted, happy, contented;
and England, too, all the happier, the more secure, the more great
and free. But sad is the story. Our independent national legislature
was torn from us by means, the iniquity of which, even among English
writers, is now proclaimed and execrated. By fraud and by force that
outrage on law, on right, and justice, was consummated. In speaking
thus I speak "sedition." No one can write the facts of Irish history,
without committing sedition. Yet every writer and speaker now will
tell you that the overthrow of our national constitution, sixty-seven
years ago, was an iniquitous and revolting scheme. But do you, then,
marvel that the laws imposed on us by the power that perpetrated that
deed are not revered, loved, and respected? Do you believe that that
want of respect arises from the "seditions" of men like my
fellow-traversers and myself? Is it wonderful to see estrangement
between a people and laws imposed on them by the over-ruling
influence of another nation? Look at the lessons--unhappy
lessons--taught our people by that London legislature where their own
will is overborne. Concessions refused and resisted as long as they
durst be withheld; and when granted at all, granted only after
passion has been aroused and the whole nation been embittered. The
Irish people sought Emancipation. Their great leader was dogged at
every step by hostile government proclamations and crown
prosecutions. Coercion act over coercion act was rained upon us; yet
O'Connell triumphed. But how and in what spirit was Emancipation
granted? Ah there never was a speech more pregnant with mischief,
with sedition, with revolutionary teaching--never words tended more
to bring law and government into contempt--than the words of the
English premier when he declared Emancipation must, sorely against
his will, be granted if England would not face a civil war. That was
a bad lesson to teach Irishmen. Worse still was taught them.
O'Connell, the great constitutional leader, a man with whom loyalty
and respect for the laws was a fundamental principle of action, led
the people towards further liberation--the liberation, not of a
creed, but a nation. What did he seek? To bring once more the laws
and the national will into accord; to reconcile the people and the
laws by restoring the constitution of queen, lords, and commons. How
was he met by the government? By the nourish of the sword; by the
drawn sabre and the shotted gun, in the market place and the highway.
"Law" finally grasped him as a conspirator, and a picked jury gave
the crown then, as now, such verdict as was required. The venerable
apostle of constitutional doctrines was consigned to prison, while a
sorrowing--aye, a maddened nation, wept for him outside. Do you
marvel that they held in "disesteem" the law and government that
acted thus? Do you marvel that to-day, in Ireland, as in every
century of all those through which I have traced this state of
things, the people and the law scowl upon each other? Gentlemen, do
not misunderstand the purport of my argument. It is not for the
purpose--it would be censurable--of merely opening the wounds of the
past that I have gone back upon history somewhat farther than the
solicitor-general found it advantageous to go. I have done it to
demonstrate that there is a truer reason than that alleged by the
crown in this case for the state of war--for unhappily that is what
it is--which prevails between the people of Ireland and the laws
under which they now live. And now apply all this to the present
case, and judge you my guilt--judge you the guilt of those whose
crime, indeed, is that they do not love and respect law and
government as they are now administered in Ireland. Gentlemen, the
present prosecution arises directly out of what is known as the
Manchester tragedy. The solicitor-general gave you his version, his
fanciful sketch of that sad affair; but it will be my duty to give
you the true facts, which differ considerably from the crown story.
The solicitor-general began with telling us about "the broad summer's
sun of the 18th September" (laughter). Gentlemen, it seems very clear
that the summer goes far into the year for those who enjoy the sweets
of office; nay, I am sure it is summer "all the year round" with the
solicitor-general while the present ministry remain in. A goodly
golden harvest he and his colleagues are making in this summer of
prosecutions; and they seem very well inclined to get up enough of
them (laughter). Well, gentlemen, I'm not complaining of that, but I
will tell you who complain loudly--the "outs," with whom it is
midwinter, while the solicitor-general and his friends are enjoying
this summer (renewed laughter). Well, gentlemen, some time last
September two prominent leaders of the Fenian movement--alleged to be
so at least--named Kelly and Deasy, were arrested in Manchester. In
Manchester there is a considerable Irish population, and amongst them
it was known those men had sympathisers. They were brought up at the
police court--and now, gentlemen, pray attentively mark this. The
Irish executive that morning telegraphed to the Manchester
authorities a strong warning of an attempted rescue. The Manchester
police had full notice--how did they treat the timely warning sent
from Dublin; a warning which, if heeded, would have averted all this
sad and terrible business which followed upon that day? Gentlemen,
the Manchester police authorities scoffed at the warning. They
derided it as a "Hirish" alarm. What! The idea of low "Hirish" hodmen
or labourers rescuing prisoners from them, the valiant and the brave!
Why, gentlemen, the Seth Bromleys of the "force" in Manchester waxed
hilarious and derisive over the idea. They would not ask even a
truncheon to put to flight even a thousand of those despised
"Hirish;" and so, despite specific warning from Dublin, the van
containing the two Fenian leaders, guarded by eleven police officers,
set out from the police office to the jail. Now, gentlemen, I charge
on the stolid vain gloriousness in the first instance, and the
contemptible pusilanimity in the second instance, of the Manchester
police--the valiant Seth Bromleys--all that followed. On the skirts
of the city the van was attacked by some eighteen Irish youths,
having three revolvers--three revolvers, gentlemen, and no
more--amongst them. The valour of the Manchester eleven vanished at
the sight of those three revolvers--some of them, it seems, loaded
with blank cartridge! The Seth Bromleys took to their heels. They
abandoned the van. Now, gentlemen, do not understand me to call those
policemen cowards. It is hard to blame an unarmed man who runs away
from a pointed revolver, which, whether loaded or unloaded, is a
powerful persuasion to--depart. But I do say that I believe in my
soul that if that had occurred here in Dublin, eleven men of our
metropolitan police whould have taken those three revolvers or
perished in the attempt (applause). Oh, if eleven Irish policemen had
run away like that from a few poor English lads with barely three
revolvers, how the press of England would yell in fierce
denunciation--why, they would trample to scorn the name of
Irishman--(applause in the court, which the officials vainly tried to
silence). [Footnote C: For publishing an illustration in the _Weekly
News_ thus picturing England's policy of coercion, Mr. Sullivan had
been found guilty of seditious libel on the previous trial.]

Mr. Justice Fitzgerald--If these interruptions continue, the parties
so offending must be removed.

Mr. Sullivan--I am sorry, my lord, for the interruption; though not
sorry the people should endorse my estimate of the police. Well,
gentlemen, the van was abandoned by its valiant guard; but there
remained inside one brave and faithful fellow, Brett by name. I am
now giving you the facts as I in my conscience and soul believe they
occurred--and as millions of my countrymen--aye, and thousands of
Englishmen, too--solemnly believe them to have occurred, though they
differ in one item widely from the crown version. Brett refused to
give up the key of the van, which he held; and the attacking party
commenced various endeavours to break it open. At length one of them
called out to fire a pistol into the lock, and thus burst it open.
The unfortunate Brett at that moment was looking through the keyhole,
endeavouring to get a view of the inexplicable scene outside, when he
received the bullet and fell dead. Gentlemen, that may be the true,
or it may be the mistaken version. You may hold to the other, or you
may hold to this. But whether I be mistaken therein, or otherwise, I
say here, as I would say if I stood now before my Eternal Judge on
the Last Day, I solemnly believe the mournful episode to have
happened thus--I solemnly believe that the man Brett was shot by
accident, and not by design. But even suppose your view differs
sincerely from mine, will you, can you, hold that I, thus
conscientiously persuaded, sympathise with murder, because I
sympathise with men hanged for that which I contend was accident, and
not murder? That is exactly the issue in this case. Well, the rescued
Fenian leaders got away; and then, when all was over--when the danger
was passed--valour tremendous returned to the fleet of foot
Manchester police. Oh, but they wreaked their vengeance that night
on the houses of the poor Irish in Manchester! By a savage razzia
they soon filled the jails with our poor countrymen seized on
suspicion. And then broke forth all over England that shout of anger
and passion which none of us will ever forget. The national pride had
been sorely wounded; the national power had been openly and
humiliatingly defied; the national fury was aroused. On all sides
resounded the hoarse shout for vengeance, swift and strong. Then was
seen a sight the most shameful of its kind that this century has
exhibited--a sight at thought of which Englishmen yet will hang their
heads for shame, and which the English historian will chronicle with
reddened check--those poor and humble Irish youths led into the
Manchester dock in chains! In chains! Yes; iron fetters festering
wrist and ankle! Oh, gentlemen, it was a fearful sight; for no one
can pretend that in the heart of powerful England there could be
danger those poor Irish youths would overcome the authorities and
capture Manchester. For what, then, were those chains put on untried
prisoners? Gentlemen, it was at this point exactly that Irish
sympathy came to the side of those prisoners. It was when we saw them
thus used, and saw that, innocent or guilty, they would be
immolated--sacrificed to glut the passion of the hour--that our
feelings rose high and strong in their behalf. Even in England there
were men--noble-hearted Englishmen, for England is never without such
men--who saw that if tried in the midst of this national frenzy,
those victims would be sacrificed; and accordingly efforts were made
for a postponement of the trial. But the roar of passion carried its
way. Not even till the ordinary assizes would the trial be postponed.
A special commission was sped to do the work while Manchester jurors
were in a white heat of panic, indignation, and fury. Then came the
trial, which was just what might be expected. Witnesses swore ahead
without compunction, and jurors believed them without hesitation.
Five men arraigned together as principals--Allen, Larkin, O'Brien,
Shore, and Maguire--were found guilty, and the judge concerning in
the verdict, were sentenced to death. Five men--not three men,
gentlemen--five men in the one verdict, not five separate verdicts.
Five men by the same evidence and the same jury in the same verdict.
Was that a just verdict? The case of the crown here to-day is that it
was--that it is "sedition" to impeach that verdict. A copy of that
conviction is handed in here as evidence to convict me of sedition
for charging as I do that that was a wrong verdict, a bad verdict, a
rotten and a false verdict. But what is the fact? That her Majesty's
ministers themselves admit and proclaim that it was a wrong verdict,
a false verdict. The very evening those men were sentenced, thirty
newspaper reporters sent up to the Home Secretary a petition
protesting that--the evidence of the witnesses and the verdict of the
jury notwithstanding--there was at least one innocent man thus marked
for execution. The government felt that the reporters were right and
the jurors wrong. They pardoned Maguire as an innocent man--that
same Maguire whose legal conviction is here put in as evidence that
he and four others were truly murderers, to sympathise with whom is
to commit sedition--nay, "to glorify the cause of murder." Well,
after that, our minds were easy. We considered it out of the question
any man would be hanged on a verdict thus ruined, blasted, and
abandoned; and believing those men innocent of murder, though guilty
of another most serious legal crime--rescue with violence, and
incidental, though not intentional loss of life--we rejoiced that a
terrible mistake was, as we thought, averted. But now arose in
redoubled fury the savage cry for blood. In vain good men, noble and
humane men, in England tried to save the national honour by breasting
this horrible outburst of passion. They were overborne. Petitioners
for mercy were mobbed and hooted in the streets. We saw all this--we
saw all this; and think you it did not sink into our hearts? Fancy if
you can our feelings when we heard that yet another man out of five
was respited--ah, he was an American, gentlemen--an American, not an
Irishman--but that the three Irishmen, Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien,
were to die--were to be put to death on a verdict and on evidence
that would not hang a dog in England! We refused to the last to
credit it; and thus incredulous, deemed it idle to make any effort to
save their lives. But it was true; it was deadly true. And then,
gentlemen, the doomed three appeared in a new character. Then they
rose into the dignity and heroism of martyrs. The manner in which
they bore themselves through the dreadful ordeal ennobled them for
ever It was then we all learned to love and revere them as patriots
and Christians. Oh, gentlemen, it is only at this point I feel my
difficulty in addressing you whose religious faith is not that which
is mine. For it is only Catholics who can understand the emotions
aroused in Catholic hearts by conduct such as theirs in that dreadful
hour. Catholics alone can understand how the last solemn declarations
of such men, after receiving the last sacraments of the Church, and
about to meet their Great Judge face to face, can outweigh the
reckless evidence of Manchester thieves and pickpockets. Yes; in that
hour they told us they were innocent, but were ready to die; and we
believed them. We believe them still. Aye, do we! They did not go to
meet their God with a falsehood on their lips. On that night before
their execution, oh, what a scene! What a picture did England present
at the foot of the Manchester scaffold! The brutal populace thronged
thither in tens of thousands. They danced; they sang; they
blasphemed; they chorused "Rule Britannia," and "God save the Queen,"
by way of taunt and defiance of the men whose death agonies they had
come to see! Their shouts and brutal cries disturbed the doomed
victims inside the prison as in their cells they prepared in prayer
and meditation to meet their Creator and their God. Twice the police
had to remove the crowd from around that wing of the prison; so that
our poor brothers might in peace go through their last preparations
for eternity, undisturbed by the yells of the multitude outside. Oh,
gentlemen, gentlemen--that scene! That scene in the grey cold
morning when those innocent men were led out to die--to die an
ignominious death before that wolfish mob! With blood on fire--with
bursting hearts--we read the dreadful story here in Ireland. We knew
that these men would never have been thus sacrificed had not their
offence been political, and had it not been that in their own way
they represented the old struggle of the Irish race. We felt that if
time had but been permitted for English passion to cool down, English
good feeling and right justice would have prevailed; and they never
would have been put to death on such a verdict. All this we felt, yet
we were silent till we heard the press that had hounded those men to
death falsely declaring that our silence was acquiescence in the deed
that consigned them to murderers' graves. Of this I have personal
knowledge, that, here in Dublin at least, nothing was done or
intended, until the _Evening Mail_ declared that popular feeling
which had had ample time to declare itself, if it felt otherwise,
quite recognised the justice of the execution. Then we resolved to
make answer. Then Ireland made answer. For what monarch, the loftiest
in the world, would such demonstrations be made, the voluntary
offerings of a people's grief! Think you it was "sympathy for murder"
called us forth, or caused the priests of the Catholic Church to
drape their churches? It is a libel to utter the base charge. No, no.
With the acts of those men at that rescue we had nought to say. Of
their innocence of murder we were convinced. Their patriotic
feelings, their religious devotion, we saw proved in the noble, the
edifying manner of their death. We believed them to have been
unjustly sacrificed in a moment of national passion; and we resolved
to rescue their memory from the foul stains of their maligners, and
make it a proud one for ever with Irishmen. Sympathy with murder,
indeed! What I am about to say will be believed; for I think I have
shown no fear of consequences in standing by my acts and
principles--I say for myself, and for the priests and people of
Ireland, who are affected by this case, that sooner would we burn our
right hands to cinders than express, directly or indirectly, sympathy
with murder; and that our sympathy for Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien is
based upon the conviction that they were innocent of any such crime.
Gentlemen, having regard to all the circumstances of this sad
business, having regard to the feelings under which we acted, think
you is it a true charge that we had for our intent and object the
bringing of the administration of justice into contempt? Does a man,
by protesting, ever so vehemently, against an act of a not infallible
tribunal, incur the charge of attempting its overthrow? What evidence
can be shown to you that we uttered a word against the general
character of the administration of justice in this country, while
denouncing this particular proceeding, which we say was a fearful
failure of justice--a horrible blunder, a terrible act of passion!
None--none. I say, for myself, I sincerely believe that in this
country of ours justice is administered by the judges of the Irish
Bench with a purity and impartiality between man and man not to be
surpassed in the universal world. Let me not be thought to cast
reflection on this court, or the learned judges before whom I now
stand, if I except in a certain sense, and on some occasions,
political trials between the subject and the crown. Apart from this,
I fearlessly say the bench of justice in Ireland fully enjoys and is
worthy of respect and homage. I care not from what political party
its members be drawn, I say that, with hardly an exception, when
robed with the ermine, they become dead to the world of politics, and
sink the politician in the loftier character of representative of
Sacred Justice. Yet, gentlemen, holding those views, I would,
nevertheless, protest against and denounce such a trial as that in
Manchester, if it had taken place here in Ireland. For, what we
contend is that the men in Manchester would never have been found
guilty on such evidence, would never have been executed on such a
verdict, if time had been given to let panic and passion pass
away--time to let English good sense and calm reason and, sense of
justice have sway. Now, gentlemen, judge ye me on this whole case;
for I have done. I have spoken at great length, but I plead not
merely my own cause but the cause of my country. For myself I care
little. I stand before you here with the manacles, I might say, on my
hands. Already a prison cell awaits me in Kilmainham. My doom, in any
event, is sealed. Already a conviction has been obtained against me
for my opinions on this same event; for it is not one arrow alone
that has been shot from the crown office quiver at me--at my
reputation, my property, my liberty. In a few hours more my voice
will be silenced; but before the world is shut out from me for a
term, I appeal to your verdict--to the verdict of my
fellow-citizens--of my fellow-countrymen--to judge my life, my
conduct, my acts, my principles and say am I a criminal. Sedition, in
a rightly ordered community, is indeed a crime. But who is it that
challenges me? Who is it that demands my loyalty? Who is it that
calls out to me, "Oh, ingrate son, where is the filial affection, the
respect, the obedience, the support, that is my due? Unnatural,
seditious, and rebellious child, a dungeon shall punish your crime!"
I look in the face of my accuser, who thus holds me to the duty of a
son. I turn to see if there I can recognise the features of that
mother, whom indeed I love, my own dear Ireland. I look into that
accusing face, and there I see a scowl, and not a smile. I miss the
soft, fond voice, the tender clasp, the loving word. I look upon the
hands reached out to grasp me--to punish me; and lo, great stains,
blood red, upon those hands; and my sad heart tells me it is the
blood of my widowed mother, Ireland. Then I answer to my
accuser--"You have no claim on me--on my love, my duty, my
allegiance. You are not my mother. You sit indeed in the place where
she should reign. You wear the regal garments torn from her limbs,
while she now sits in the dust, uncrowned and overthrown, and
bleeding, from many a wound. But my heart is with her still. Her
claim alone is recognised by me. She still commands my love, my duty,
my allegiance; and whatever the penalty may be, be it prison chains,
be it exile or death, to her I will be true" (applause). But,
gentlemen of the jury, what is that Irish nation to which my
allegiance turns? Do I thereby mean a party, or a class, or creed? Do
I mean only those who think and feel as I do on public questions? Oh,
no. It is the whole people of this land--the nobles, the peasants,
the clergy the merchants, the gentry, the traders, the
professions--the Catholic, the Protestant, the Dissenter. Yes. I am
loyal to all that a good and patriotic citizen should be loyal to; I
am ready, not merely to obey, but to support with heartfelt
allegiance, the constitution of my own country--the Queen as Queen of
Ireland, and the free parliament of Ireland once more reconstituted
in our national senate-house in College--green. And reconstituted
once more it will be. In that hour the laws will again be reconciled
with national feeling and popular reverence. In that hour there will
be no more disesteem, or hatred, or contempt for the laws: for,
howsoever a people may dislike and resent laws imposed upon them
against their will by a subjugating power, no nation disesteems the
laws of its own making. That day, that blessed day, of peace and
reconciliation, and joy, and liberty, I hope to see. And when it
comes, as come it will, in that hour it will be remembered for me
that I stood here to face the trying ordeal, ready to suffer for my
country--walking with bared feet over red hot ploughshares like the
victims of old. Yes; in that day it will be remembered for me, though
a prison awaits me now, that I was one of those journalists of the
people who, through constant sacrifice and self-immolation, fought
the battle of the people, and won every vestige of liberty remaining
in the land. (As Mr. Sullivan resumed his seat, the entire audience
burst into applause, again and again renewed, despite all efforts at

The effect of this speech certainly was very considerable. Mr. Sullivan
spoke for upwards of two hours and forty minutes, or until nearly a
quarter past six o'clock. During the delivery of his address, twilight
had succeeded day-light; the court attendants, later still, with silent
steps and taper in hand, stole around and lit the chandeliers, whose
glare upon the thousand anxious faces below, seemed to lend a still more
impressive aspect to the scene. The painful idea of the speaker's peril,
which was all-apparent at first amongst the densely-packed audience,
seemed to fade away by degrees, giving place to a feeling of triumph, as
they listened to the historical narrative of British misrule in Ireland,
by which Irish "disesteem" for British law was explained and justified,
and later on to the story of the Manchester tragedy by which Irish
sympathy with the martyrs was completely vindicated. Again and again in
the course of the speech, they burst into applause, regardless of
threatened penalties; and at the close gave vent to their feelings in a
manner that for a time defied all repression.

When silence was restored, the court was formally adjourned to next day,
Friday, at 10 o'clock, a.m.

The morning came, and with it another throng; for it was known Mr.
Martin would now speak in his turn. In order, however, that his speech,
which was sure to be an important one, might close the case against the
crown, Mr. Bracken, on the court resuming, put in _his_ defence very
effectively as follows:--

My lords--I would say a word or two, but after Mr. Sullivan's grand
and noble speech of last evening, I think it now needless on my part.
I went to the procession of the 8th December, assured that it was
right from reading a speech of the Earl of Derby in the newspapers.
There was a sitting of the Privy Council in Dublin on the day before,
and I sat in my shop that night till twelve o'clock, to see if the
procession would be forbidden by government. They, however, permitted
it to take place, and I attended it fully believing I was right. That
is all I have to say.

This short speech--delivered in a clear musical and manly voice--put the
whole case against the crown in a nut-shell. The appearance of the
speaker too--a fine, handsome, robust, and well-built man, in the prime
of life, with the unmistakable stamp of honest sincerity on his
countenance and in his eye--gave his words greater effect with the
audience; and it was very audibly murmured on all sides that he had
given the government a home thrust in his brief but telling speech.

Then Mr. Martin rose. After leaving court the previous evening he had
decided to commit to writing what he intended to say; and he now read
from manuscript his address to the jury. The speech, however, lost
nothing in effect by this; for any auditor out of view would have
believed it to have been spoken, as he usually speaks, _extempore_, so
admirably was it delivered. Mr. Martin said:--

My lords and gentlemen of the jury--I am going to trouble this court
with some reply to the charge made against me in this indictment.
But I am sorry that I must begin by protesting that I do not consider
myself as being now put upon my country to be tried as the
constitution directs--as the spirit of the constitution
requires--and, therefore, I do not address you for my legal defence,
but for my vindication before the tribunal of conscience--a far more
awful tribunal, to my mind, than this. Gentlemen, I regard you as
twelve of my fellow-countrymen, known or believed by my prosecutors
to be my political opponents, and selected for that reason for the
purpose of obtaining a conviction against me in form of law.
Gentlemen, I have not the smallest purpose of casting an imputation
against your honesty or the honesty of my prosecutors who have
selected you. This is a political trial, and in this country
political trials are always conducted in this way. It is considered
by the crown prosecutors to be their duty to exclude from the
jury-box every juror known, or suspected, to hold or agree with the
accused in political sentiment. Now, gentlemen, I have not the least
objection to see men of the most opposite political sentiments to
mine placed in the jury-box to try me, provided they be placed there
as the constitution commands--provided they are twelve of my
neighbours indifferently chosen. As a loyal citizen I am willing and
desirous to be put upon my county, and fairly tried before any twelve
of my countrymen, no matter what may happen to be the political
sentiments of any of them. But I am sorry and indignant that this is
not such a trial. This system by which over and over again loyal
subjects of the Queen in Ireland are condemned in form of law for
seeking, by such means as the constitution warrants, to restore her
Majesty's kingdom of Ireland to the enjoyment of its national
rights--this system, of selecting anti-Repealers and excluding
Repealers from the jury box, when a Repealer like me is to be tried,
is calculated to bring the administration of justice into disesteem,
disrepute, and hatred. I here protest against it. My lords and
gentlemen of the jury, before I offer any reply to the charges in
this indictment, and the further development of those charges made
yesterday by the learned gentleman whose official duty it was to
argue the government's case against me, I wish to apologise to the
court for declining to avail myself of the professional assistance of
the bar upon this occasion. It is not through any want of respect for
the noble profession of the bar that I decline that assistance. I
regard the duties of a lawyer as among the most respectable that a
citizen can undertake. His education has taught him to investigate
the origin, and to understand principles of law, and the true nature
of loyalty. He has had to consider how the interests of individual
citizens may harmonise with the interests of the community, how
justice and liberty may be united, how the state may have both order
and contentment. The application of the knowledge which he has
gained--viz., the study of law to the daily facts of human
society--sharpens and strengthens all his faculties, clears his
judgment, helps him to distinguish true from false, and right from
wrong. It is no wonder, gentlemen, that an accomplished and virtuous
lawyer holds a high place in the aristocracy of merit in every free
country. Like all things human, the legal profession has its dark as
well as its bright side, has in it germs of decay and rotten foulness
as well as of health and beauty; but yet it is a noble profession,
and one which I admire and respect. But, above all, I would desire to
respect the bar of my own country, and the Irish bar--the bar made
illustrious by such memories as those of Grattan and Flood, and the
Emmets, and Curran, and Plunket, and Saurin, and Holmes, and Sheil,
and O'Connell. I may add, too, of Burke and of Sheridan, for they
were Irish in all that made them great. The bar of Ireland wants this
day only the ennobling inspirations of national freedom to raise it
to a level with the world. Under the Union very few lawyers have been
produced whose names can rank in history with any of the great names
I have mentioned. But still, even the present times of decay, and
when the Union is preparing to carry away our superior courts, and
the remains of our bar to Westminster, and to turn that beautiful
building upon the quay into a barrack like the Linen Hall, or an
English tax-gatherer's office like the Custom House, there are many
learned, accomplished, and respectable lawyers at the Irish bar, and
far be it from me to doubt but that any Irish lawyer who might
undertake my defence would loyally exert himself as the lofty idea of
professional honour commands to save me from a conviction. But to
this attack upon my character as a good citizen and upon my liberty,
my lords and gentlemen, the only defence I could permit to be offered
would be a full justification of my political conduct, morally,
constitutionally, legally--a complete vindication of my acts and
words alleged to be seditious and disloyal, and to retort against my
accusers the charge of sedition and disloyalty. Not, indeed, that I
would desire to prosecute these gentlemen upon that charge, if I
could count upon convicting them and send them to the dungeon instead
of myself. I don't desire to silence them, or to hurt a hair of their
wigs because their political opinions differed from mine. Gentlemen,
this prosecution against me, like the prosecutions just accomplished
against two national newspapers, is part of a scheme of the ministers
of the crown for suppressing all voice of protest against the Union,
for suppressing all public complaint against the deadly results of
the Union, and all advocacy by act, speech, or writing for Repeal of
the Union. Now I am a Repealer so long as I have been a politician at
all--that is for at least twenty-four years past. Until the national
self-government of my country be first restored, there appears to me
to be no place, no _locus standi_ (as lawyers say), for any other
Irish political question, and I consider it to be my duty as a
patriotic and loyal citizen, to endeavour by all honourable and
prudent means to procure the Repeal of the Act of the Union, and the
restoration of the independent Irish government, of which my country
was (as I have said in my prosecuted speech), "by fraud and force,"
and against the will of the vast majority of its people of every
race, creed, and class, though under false form of law, deprived
sixty-seven years ago. Certainly, I do not dispute the right of you,
gentlemen, or of any man in this court, or in all Ireland, to
approve of the Union, to praise it, if you think right, as being wise
and beneficent, and to advocate its continuance openly by act,
speech, and writing. But I naturally think that my convictions in
this matter of the Union ought to be shared by you also, gentlemen,
and by the learned judges, and the lawyers, both crown lawyers and
all others, and by the policemen and soldiers, and all faithful
subjects of her Majesty in Ireland. Now, gentlemen, such being my
convictions, were I to entrust my defence in this court to a lawyer,
he must speak as a Repealer, not only for me, but for himself, not
only as a professional advocate, but as a man, and from the heart. I
cannot doubt but that there are very many Irish lawyers who privately
share my convictions about Repeal. Believing as I do in my heart and
conscience, and with all the force of the mind that God has given me,
that Repeal is the right and the only right policy for Ireland--for
healing all the wounds of our community, all our sectarian feuds, all
our national shame, suffering, and peril--for making our country
peaceful, industrious, prosperous, respectable, and happy--I cannot
doubt but that in the enlightened profession of the bar there must be
very many Irishmen who, like me, consider Repeal to be right, and
best, and necessary for the public good. But, gentlemen, ever since
the Union, by fraud and force and against the will of the Irish
people, was enacted--ever since that act of usurpation by the English
parliament of the sovereign rights of the queen, lords, and commons
of Ireland--ever since this country was thereby rendered the subject
instead of the sister of England--ever since the Union, but
especially for about twenty years past, it has been the policy of
those who got possession of the sovereign rights of the Irish crown
to appoint to all places of public trust, emolument, or honour in
Ireland only such as would submit, whether by parole or by tacit
understanding, to suppress all public utterance of their desire for
the Repeal of the Union such as has been the persistent policy
towards this country of those who command all the patronage of Irish
offices, paid and unpaid--the policy of all English ministers,
whether Whig or Tory, combined with the disposal of the public
forces--such a policy is naturally very effective in not really
reconciling, but in keeping Ireland quietly subject to the Union. It
is a hard trial of men's patriotism to be debarred from all career of
profitable and honourable distinction in the public service of their
own country. I do not wonder that few Irish lawyers, in presence of
the mighty power of England, dare to sacrifice personal ambition and
interest to what may seem a vain protest against accomplished facts.
I do not wish to attack or offend them--as this court expresses it,
to impute improper motives to them--by thus simply stating the sad
facts which are relevant to my own case in this prosecution, and
explaining that I decline professional assistance, because few
lawyers would be so rash as to adopt my political convictions, and
vindicate my political conduct as their own, and because if any
lawyer were so bold as to offer me his aid on my own terms, I am too
generous to permit him to ruin his professional career for my sake.
Such are the reasons, gentlemen of the jury and my lords, why I am
now going through this trial, not _secundum artum_, but like an
eccentric patient who won't be treated by the doctors but will quack
himself. Perhaps I would be safer if I did not say a word about the
legal character of the charge made against me in this indictment.
There are legal matters as dangerous to handle as any drugs in the
pharmacopoeia. Yet I shall trouble you for a short time longer, while
I endeavour to show that I have not acted in a way unbecoming a good
citizen. The charge against me in this indictment is that I took part
in an illegal procession by the provisions of the statute entitled in
the Party Processions' Act. His lordship enumerated seven conditions,
the violation of some one of which is necessary to render an assembly
illegal at common law. Those seven conditions are--1. That the
persons forming the assembly met to carry out an unlawful purpose. 2.
That the numbers in which the persons met endangered the public
peace. 3. That the assembly caused alarm to the peaceful subjects of
the Queen. 4. That the assembly created disaffection. 5. That the
assembly incited her Majesty's Irish subjects to hate her Majesty's
English subjects--his lordship did not say anything of the case of an
assembly inciting the Queen's English subjects to hate the Queen's
Irish subjects, but no such case is likely to be tried here. 6. That
the assembly intended to asperse the right and constitutional
administration of justice; and 7. That the assembly intended to
impair the functions of justice and to bring the administration of
justice into disrepute. I say that the procession of the 8th December
did not violate any one of these conditions--1. In the first place
the persons forming that procession did not meet to carry out any
unlawful purpose--their purpose was peaceably to express their
opinion upon a public act of the public servants of the crown. 2. In
the second place the numbers in which those persons met did not
endanger the public peace. None of those persons carried arms.
Thousands of those persons were women and children. There was no
injury or offence attempted to be committed against anybody, and no
disturbance of the peace took place. 3. In the third place the
assembly caused no alarm to the peaceable subjects of the
Queen--there is not a tittle of evidence to that effect. 4. In the
fourth place the assembly did not create disaffection, neither was it
intended or calculated to create disaffection. On the contrary, the
assembly served to give peaceful expression to the opinion
entertained by vast numbers of her Majesty's peaceful subjects upon a
public act of the servants of the crown, an act which vast numbers of
the Queen's subjects regretted and condemned. And thus the assembly
was calculated to prevent or remove disaffection, and such open and
peaceful manifestations of the real opinions of the Queen's subjects
upon public affairs is the proper, safe, and constitutional way in
which they may aid to prevent disaffection. 5. In the fifth place the
assembly did not incite the Irish subjects of the Queen to hate her
Majesty's subjects. On the contrary, it was a proper constitutional
way of bringing about a right understanding upon a transaction which,
if not fairly and fully explained and set right, must produce hatred
between the two peoples. That transaction was calculated to produce
hatred. But those who protest peaceably against such a transaction
are not the party to be blamed, but those responsible for the
transaction. 6. In the sixth place the assembly had no purpose of
aspersing the right and constitutional administration of justice. Its
tendency was peaceably to point out faults in the conduct of the
servants of the crown, charged with the administration of justice,
which faults were calculated to bring the administration of justice
into disrepute. 7. Nor, in the seventh place, did the assembly impair
the functions of justice, or intend or tend to do so. Even my
prosecutors do not allege that judicial tribunals are infallible. It
would be too absurd to make such an allegation in plain words. It is
admitted on all hands that judges have sometimes given wrong
directions, that juries have given wrong verdicts, that courts of
justice have wrongfully appreciated the whole matter for trial. When
millions of the Queen's subjects think that such wrong has been done,
is it sedition for them to say so peaceably and publicly? On the
contrary, the constitutional way for good citizens to act in striving
to keep the administration of justice pure and above suspicion of
unfairness, is by such open and peaceable protests. Thus, and thus
only, may the functions of justice be saved from being impaired. In
this case wrong had been done. Five men had been tried together upon
the same evidence, and convicted together upon that evidence, and
while one of the five was acknowledged by the crown to be innocent,
and the whole conviction was thus acknowledged to be wrong and
invalid, three of the five men were hanged upon that conviction. My
friend, Mr. Sullivan, in his eloquent and unanswerable speech of
yesterday, has so clearly demonstrated the facts of that unhappy and
disgraceful affair of Manchester, that I shall merely say of it that
I adopt every word he spoke upon the subject for mine, and to justify
the sentiment and purpose with which I engaged in the procession of
the 8th December. I say the persons responsible for that transanction
are fairly liable to the charge of acting so as to bring the
administration of justice into contempt, unless, gentlemen, you hold
those persons to be infallible and hold that thay can do no wrong.
But, gentlemen, the constitution does not say that the servants of
the crown can do no wrong. According to the constitution the
sovereign can do no wrong, but her servants may. In this case they
have done wrong. And, gentlemen, you cannot right that wrong, nor
save the administration of justice from the disreputation into which
such proceedings are calculated to bring it, by giving a verdict to
put my comrades and myself into jail for saying openly and peaceably
that we believe the administration of justice in that unhappy affair
did do wrong. But further, gentlemen, let us suppose that you twelve
jurors, as well as the servants of the crown who are prosecuting me,
and the two judges, consider me to be mistaken in my opinion upon
that judicial proceeding, yet you have no right under the
constitution to convict me of a misdemeanour for openly and peaceably
expressing my opinion. You have no such right; and as to the wisdom
of treating my differences of opinion and the peaceable expression of
it as a penal offence--and the wisdom of a political act ought to be
a serious question with all good and loyal citizens--consider that
the opinion you are invited by the crown prosecutors to pronounce to
be a penal offence is not mine alone, nor that of the five men herein
indicted, but is the opinion of all the 30,000 persons estimated by
the crown evidence to have taken part in the assembly of the 8th of
December; is the opinion besides of the 90,000 or 100,000 others who,
standing in the streets of this city, or at the open windows
overlooking the streets traversed by the procession that day,
manifested their sympathy with the objects of the procession; is the
opinion, as you are morally certain, of some millions of your Irish
fellow-subjects. By indicting me for the expression of that opinion
the public prosecutors virtually indict some millions of the Queen's
peaceable Irish subjects. It is only the convenience of this
court--which could not hold the millions in one batch of traversers,
and which would require daily sittings for several successive years
to go through the proper formalities for duly trying all those
millions; it is only the convenience of this court that can be
pretended to relieve the crown prosecutors from the duty of trying
and convicting all those millions if it is their duty to try and
convict me. The right principles of law do not allow the servants of
the crown to evade or neglect their duty of bringing to justice all
offenders against the law. I suppose these gentlemen may allege that
it is at their discretion what offenders against the law they will
prosecute. I deny that the principles of the law allow them, or allow
the Queen such discretion. The Queen, at her coronation services,
swears to do justice to all her subjects according to the law. The
Queen, certainly, has the right by the constitution to pardon any
offenders against the law. She has the prerogative of mercy. But
there can be no pardon, no mercy, till after an offence be proved in
due course of law by accusation of the alleged offenders before the
proper tribunals, followed by the plea of guilty or the jurors'
verdict of guilty. And to select one man or six men for trial,
condemnation, and punishment, out of, say, four millions who have
really participated in the same alleged wicked, malicious, seditious,
evil-disposed, and unlawful proceeding, is unfair to the six men, and
unfair to the other 3,999,994 men--is a dereliction of duty on the
part of the officers of the law, and is calculated to bring the
administration of justice into disrepute. Equal justice is what the
constitution demands. Under military authority an army may be
decimated, and a few men may properly be punished, while the rest are
left unpunished. But under a free constitution it is not so. Whoever
breaks the law must be made amenable to punishment, or equal justice
is not rendered to the subjects of the Queen. Is it not pertinent,
therefore, gentlemen, for me to say to you this is an unwise
proceeding which my prosecutors bid you to sanction by a verdict? I
have heard it asked by a lawyer addressing this court as a question
that must be answered in the negative--can you indict a whole nation?
If such a proceeding as this prosecution against the peaceable
procession of the 8th December receives the sanction of your verdict,
that question must be answered in the affirmative. It will need only
a crown prosecutor, an attorney-general, and a solicitor-general, two
judges, and twelve jurors, all of the one mind, while all the other
subjects of the Queen in Ireland are of a different mind, and the
five millions and a half of the Queen's subjects of Ireland outside
that circle of seventeen of her Majesty's subjects, may be indicted,
convicted, and consigned to penal imprisonment in due form of law--a
law as understood in political trials in Ireland. Gentlemen, I have
thus far endeavoured to argue from the common sense of mankind, with
which the principles of law must be in accord, that the peaceable
procession of the 8th of December--that peaceable demonstration of
the sentiment of millions of the Queen's subjects in Ireland--did not
violate any of the seven conditions of the learned judge to the grand
jury in defining what constitutes an illegal assembly at common law;
and I have also argued that the prosecution is unwise, and calculated
to excite discontent. Gentlemen, I shall now endeavour to show you
that the procession of the 8th of December did not violate the
statute entitled the Party Processions' Act. The learned judge in his
charge told the grand jury that under this act all processions are
illegal which carry weapons of offence, or which carry symbols
calculated to promote the animosity of some other class of her
Majesty's subjects. Applying the law to this case, his lordship
remarked that the processions of the 8th of December had something of
military array--that is, they went in regular order with a regular
step. But, gentlemen, there were no arms in that procession, there
were no symbols in that procession intended or calculated to provoke
animosity in any other class of the Queen's subjects, or in any human
creature. There were neither symbol, nor deed, or word intended to
provoke animosity, and as to the military array--is it not absurd to
attribute a warlike character to an unarmed and perfectly peaceful
assemblage, in which there were some thousands of women and children?
No offence was given or offered any human being. The authorities were
so assured of the peacefulness and inoffensiveness of the assemblage
that the police were withdrawn in a great measure from their ordinary
duties of preventing disorders. And as to the remark that the people
walked with a regular step, I need only say that was done for the
sake of order and decorum. It would be merely to doubt whether you
are men of common sense if I argued any further to satisfy you that
the procession did not violate the Party Processions' Act, such as it
is defined by the learned judge. The speech delivered on that
occasion is an important element in forming a judgment upon the
character and object of the procession. The speech declared the
procession to be a peaceable expression of the opinion of those who
composed it upon an important public transaction, an expression of
sorrow and indignation at an act of the ministers of the government.
It was a protest against that act--a protest which those who
disapproved of it were entitled by the constitution to make, and
which they made, peaceably and legitimately. Has not every individual
of the millions of the Queen's subjects the right to say so say
openly whether he approves or disapproves of any public act of the
Queen's ministers? Has not all the Queen's subjects the right to say
altogether if they can without disturbance of the Queen's peace? The
procession enabled many thousands to do that without the least
inconvenience or danger to themselves, and with no injury or offence
to their neighbours. To prohibit or punish peaceful, inoffensive,
orderly, and perfectly innocent processions upon pretence that they
are constructively unlawful, is unconstitutional tyranny. Was it done
because the ministers discovered that the terror of suspended habeas
corpus had not in this matter stifled public opinion? Of course, if
anything be prohibited by government, the people obey--of course I
obey. I would not have held the procession had I not understood that
it was permitted. But understanding that it was permitted, and so
believing that it might serve the people for a safe and useful
expression of their sentiment, I held the procession. I did not hold
the procession because I believed it to be illegal, but because I
believed it to be legal and understood it to be permitted. In this
country it is not law that must rule a loyal citizen's conduct, but
the caprice of the English ministers. For myself, I acknowledge that
I submit to such a system of government unwillingly, and with
constant hope for the restoration of the reign of law, but I do
submit. Why at first did the ministers of the crown permit an
expression of censure upon that judicial proceeding at Manchester by
a procession--why did they not warn her Majesty's subjects against
the danger of breaking the law? Was it not because they thought that
the terrors of the suspended habeas corpus would be enough to prevent
the people from coming openly forward at all to express their real
sentiments? Was it because they found that so vehement and so general
was the feeling of indignation at that unhappy transaction at
Manchester that they did venture to come openly forward--with perfect
peacefulness and most careful observance of the peace to express
their real sentiments--that the ministry proclaimed down the
procession, and now prosecute us in order to stifle public opinion?
Gentlemen of the jury, I have said enough to convince any twelve
reasonable men that there was nothing in my conduct in the matter of
that procession which you can declare on your oaths to be "malicious,
seditious, ill-disposed, and intended to disturb the peace and
tranquility of the realm." I shall trouble you no further, except by
asking you to listen to the summing up of this indictment, and, while
you listen to judge between me and the attorney-general. I shall read
you my words and his comment. Judge of us, Irish jurors, which of us
two are guilty:--"Let us, therefore, conclude this proceeding by
joining heartily, with hats off, in the prayer of those three men,
'God save Ireland.'" "Thereby," says the attorney-general in his
indictment, "meaning, and intending to excite hatred, dislike, and
animosity against her Majesty and the government, and bring into
contempt the administration of justice and the laws of this realm,
and cause strife and hatred between her Majesty's subjects in Ireland
and in England, and to excite discontent and disaffection against her
Majesty's government." Gentlemen, I have now done.

Mr. Martin sat down amidst loud and prolonged applause.

This splendid argument, close, searching, irresistible, gave the _coup
de grace_ to the crown case. The prisoners having called no evidence,
according to honourable custom having almost the force of law, the
prosecution was disentitled to any rejoinder. Nevertheless, the crown
put up its ablest speaker--a man far surpassing in attainments as a
lawyer and an orator both the Attorney and Solicitor-General--Mr. Ball,
Q.C., to press against the accused that technical right which honourable
usage reprehended as unfair! No doubt the crown authorities felt it was
not a moment in which they could afford to be squeamish or scrupulous.
The speeches of Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Martin had had a visible effect
upon the jury--had, in fact, made shreds of the crown case; and so Mr.
Ball was put up as the last hope of averting the "disaster" of a
failure. He spoke with his accustomed ability and dignity, and made a
powerful appeal in behalf of the crown. Then Mr. Justice Fitzgerald
proceeded to charge the jury, which he did in his own peculiarly calm,
precise, and perspicuous style. At the outset, referring to the protest
of the accused against the conduct of the crown in the jury challenges,
he administered a keen rebuke to the government officials. It was, he
said, no doubt the strict legal _right_ of the crown to act as it had
done; yet, considering that this was a case in which the accused was
accorded no corresponding privilege, the exercise of that right in such
a manner by the crown certainly was, in his, Mr. Justice Fitzgerald's
estimation, _a subject for grave objection_.

Here there was what the newspaper reporters call "sensation in court."
What! Had it come to this, that one of the chief institutions of the
land--a very pillar of the crown and government--namely, _jury-packing_,
was to be reflected upon from the bench itself. Monstrous!

The charge, though mild in language, was pretty sharp on the
"criminality" of such conduct as was _imputed_ to the accused, yet
certainly left some margin to the jury for the exercise of their opinion
upon "the law and the facts."

At two o'clock in the afternoon the jury retired to consider their
verdict, and as the judges at the same moment withdrew to their chamber,
the pent-up feelings of the crowded audience instantly found vent in
loud Babel-like expressions and interchange of comments on the charge,
and conjectures as to the result. "Waiting for the verdict" is a scene
that has often been described and painted. Everyone of course concluded
that half-an-hour would in any case elapse before the anxiously watched
jury-room door would open; but when the clock hands neared three,
suspense intense and painful became more and more visible in every
countenance. It seemed to be only now that men fully realized all that
was at stake, all that was in peril, on this trial! _A conviction in
this case rendered the national colour of Ireland for ever more an
illegal and forbidden emblem_! A conviction in this case would degrade
the symbol of nationality into a badge of faction! To every fevered
anxious mind at this moment rose the troubled memories of gloomy
times--the "dark and evil days" chronicled in that popular ballad, the
music and words of which now seemed to haunt the watchers in the

"Oh, Patrick, dear, and did you hear
The news that's going round?
The shamrock is by law forbid.
To grow on Irish ground.
No more St. Patrick's day we'll keep--
His colour can't be seen,
For there's a bloody law again
The Wearing of the Green."

But hark! There is a noise at the jury-room door! It opens--the jury
enter the box. A murmur, swelling to almost a roar, from the crowded
audience, is instantly followed by a deathlike stillness. The judges are
called; but by this time it is noticed that the foreman has not the
"issue-paper" ready to hand down; and a buzz goes round--"a question; a
question!" It is even so. The foreman asks:--

Whether, if they believed the speech of Mr. Martin to be in itself
seditious, should they come to the conclusion that the assemblage was

Mr. Justice Fitzgerald answers _in the negative_, and a thrill goes
through the audience. Nor is this all. One of the jurors declares there
is no chance whatever of their agreeing to a verdict! Almost a cheer
breaks out. The judge, however, declares they must retire again; which
the jury do, very reluctantly and doggedly; in a word, very unlike men
likely to "persuade one another."

When the judges again leave the bench for their chamber, the crowd in
court give way outright to joy. Every face is bright; every heart is
light; jokes go round, and there is great "chaff" of the crown
officials, and of the "polis," who, poor fellows, to tell the truth,
seem to be as glad as the gladdest in the throng. Five o'clock
arrives--half-past five--the jury must suavely be out soon now. At a
quarter to six they come; and for an instant the joke is hushed, and
cheeks suddenly grow pale with fear lest by any chance it might be evil
news. But the faces of the jurymen tell plainly "no verdict." The judges
again are seated. The usual questions in such cases: the usual answers.
"No hope whatever of an agreement." Then after a reference to the
Solicitor-General, who, in sepulchral tone, "supposes" there is "nothing
for it" but to discharge the jury, his lordship declares the jury

Like a volley there burst a wild cheer, a shout, that shook the
building! Again and again it was renewed; and, being caught up by the
crowd outside, sent the tidings of victory with electrical rapidity
through the city. Then there was a rush at Mr. Martin and Mr. Sullivan.
The former especially was clasped, embraced, and borne about by the
surging throng, wild with joy. It was with considerable difficulty any
of the traversers could get away, so demonstrative was the multitude in
the streets. Throughout the city the event was hailed with rejoicing,
and the names of the jurymen, "good and bad" were vowed to perpetual
benediction. For once, at least, justice had triumphed; or rather,
injustice had been baulked. For once, at least, the people had won the
day; and the British Government had received a signal overthrow in its
endeavour to proscribe--


* * * * *

For one of the actors in the above-described memorable scene, the
victory purchased but a few hours safety. Next morning Mr. A.M. Sullivan
was placed again at the bar to hear his sentence--that following upon
the first of the prosecutions hurled against him (the _press_
prosecution), on which he had been found guilty. Again the court was
crowded--this time with anxious faces, devoid of hope. It was a brief
scene. Mr. Justice Fitzgerald announced the sentence--six months in
Richmond Prison; and amidst a farewell demonstration that compelled the
business of the court to be temporarily suspended, the officials led
away in custody the only one of the prosecuted processionists who
expiated by punishment his sympathy with the fate of the Martyred Three
of Manchester.



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