Imágenes de páginas

his charge, he might have been hanged for the nalice of his parable.

It is, my lords, in this temper of mind, befitting every advocate who is worthy of the name, deeply and modestly sensible of his duty, and proud of his privilege, equally exalted above the meanness of tempe-rizing or of offending, most averse from the unnecessa:ry infliction of pain upon any man or men whatsoever, that I now address you on a question, the most vitally connected with the liberty and well being of every man within the limits of the British empire ; which, if decided one way, he may be a freeman; which, if de cided the other, he must be a slave. It is not the Irish nation only that is involved in this question. Every member of the three realms is equally emharked ; and would to God all England could listen to what passes here this day! they would regard us with more sympathy and respect, when the proudest Briton saw that his liberty was defended in what he would call a provincial court, and by a provincial advocate. The abstract and general question for your consideration is this: my lord Ellenborough has signed with his own hand a warrant, which has been endorsed by Mr. Bell, an Irish justice, for seizing the person of Mr. Justice

Johnson in Ireland, for conveying his person by the - most direct way, in such manner as these bailiffs may

choose, across the sea, and afterwards to the city of Westminster, to take his trial for an alleged libel against the persons entrusted with the government of Ireland ; and to take that trial in a country where

the supposed offender did not live at the time of the ? supposed offence, nor since a period of at least eigh

teen months previous thereto, has ever resided; where the subject of his accusation is perfectly unknown; where

the conduct of his prosecutors, which has been the · subject of the supposed libel, is equally unknown; where he has not the power of compelling the attendance of a single witness for his defence. Under that warrant he has been dragged from his family ; under that warrant he was on his way to the water's edge:

his transportation has been interrupted by the writ before you, and upon the return of that writ arises the question upon which you are to decide, the legalily or illegality of so transporting him for the purpose of trial,

Mr. Curran, after citing various cases in favor of his client, concluded a long and eloquent speech thus:

Even if it should be my client's fate to be surrendered to his keepers—to be torn from his familyto have his obsequies performed by torch-light-tu be carried to a foreign land, and to a strange tribunal, where no witness can attest his innocence, where no voice that he ever heard can be raised in his defence, where he must stand mute, not of his own malice, but the malice of his enemies-yes. even so, I see nothing for him to fear-that all-gracious Being that shields the feeble from the oppressor, will fill his heart with hope, and confidence, and courage; his sufferings will te his armour, and his weakness will be his strength; he will find himself in the hands of a brave, a just; and a generous nation-he will find that the bright examples of her Russels and her Sidneys have not been lost to her children; they will behold him with sympa. thy and respect, and his persecutors with shame and abhorrence; they will feel too, that what is then his situation, may to-morrow be :heir own—but their first tear will be shed for him, and the second only for themselves—their hearts will melt in his acquittal; they will convey him kindly and fondly to their shore ; and he will return in triumph to his country; to the threshold of his sacred home, and to the weeping welcome of his delighted family; he will find that the darkness of a dreary and a lingering night hath at length passed away, and that joy cometh in the morning. No, my lords, I have no fear for the ultimate safety of my client. Even in these very acts of brutal violence that have been committed against him, do I hail the flattering hope of final advantage to him-and not only of final advantage to him, but of better days and more prospe. rous fortune for this afflicted country-that country of which I have so often abandoned all hope, and which I have been so often determined to quit for ever.

Sæpe vale dicto multa sum deinde locutus,
Et quasi discedens oscula summa dabam,
Indulgens animo, pes tardus erat.

But I am reclaimed from that infidel despair-I am satisfied that while a man is suffered to live, it is an intimation from Providence that he has some duty to discharge, which it is mean and criminal to decline; had I been guilty of that ignominious flight, and gone to pine in the obscurity of some distant retreat, even in that grave I should have been haunted by those pas. sions by which my life had been agitated

Quæ cura vivos eadem sequitur tellure repostos.

And, if the transactions of this day had reached me, I feel how my heart would have been agonized by the shame of the desertion ; nor would my sufferings have been mitigated by a sense of the feebleness of that aid, or the smallness of that service, which I could render or withdraw. They would have been aggravated by the consciousness that however feeble or worthless they were, I should not have dared to thieve them from my country. I have repented— I have staid—and I am at once rebuked and rewarded by the happier hopes that I now entertain. In the anxious sympathy of the public in the anxious sympathy of my learned brethren, do I catch the happy presage of a brighter fate for Ireland. They see, that within these sacred walls, the cause of liberty and of man may be pleaded with boldness, and heard with favor. I am satisfied they will never forget the great trust, of which they alone are now the remaining depositaries. While they continue to cultivate a sound and literate philosophya mild and tolerating Christianity-and to make both

the sources of a just and liberal, and constitutional jurisprudence, I see every thing for us to hope ; into their hands, therefore, with the most affectionale confidence in their virtue, do I commit these precious hopes. Even I may live long enough yet to see the approaching completion, if not the perfect accomplishment of them. Pleased shall I then resign the scene lo fitter actors-pleased shall I lay down my wearied head to rest, and say, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant de part in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”

FINERTY'S TRIAL. Let me ask you whether you know of any language which could have adequately described the idea of mercy denied where it ought to have been granted, or of any phrase vigorous enough to convey the indignation which an honest man would have felt upon such a subject ? Let me beg of you for a moment to suppose that any one of you had been the writer of this very severe expostulation with the viceroy, and that you had been the witness of the whole progress of this never to be forgotten catastrophe. Let me suppose that you had known the charge upon which Mr. Orr was apprehended, the charge of abjuring that bigotry which had torn and disgraced his country, of pledging himself to restore the people of his country to their place in the constitution, and of binding himself never io be the betrayer of his fellow-laborers in that enterprise; that you had seen him upon that charge removed frorn his industry and confined in a jail; that through the slow and lingering progress of twelve tedious months. you had seen him confined in a dungeon, shut out from the common use of air and of his own limbs ; that day after day you had marked the unhappy captive, cheered by no sound but the cries of his family, or the clanking of his chains ; that you had seen him at last brought to his trial; that you had seen the vile and

perjured informer deposing against his life; that you had seen the drunken, and worn out and terrified jury give in a verdict of death ; that you had seen the same jury, when their returning sobriety had brought back their consciences, prostrate themselves before the humanity of the bench, and pray that the mercy of the crown might save their characters from the reproach of an involuntary crime, their consciences from the torture of eternal self-condemnation, and their souls from the indelible stain of innocent blood.

Let me suppose that you had seen the respite given, and that contrite and honest recommendation transmitted to that seat where mercy was presumed to dwell; that new, and before unheard of, crimes are discovered against the informer; that the royal mercy seems to relent, and that a new respite is sent to the prisoner; that time is taken, as the learned counsel for the crown has expressed it, to see whether mercy could be extended or not that after that period of lingering deliberation passed, a third respite is transmitted ; that the unhappy captive himself feels the cheering hope of being restored to a family that he had adored, to a character that he had never stained, and to a country that he had ever loved; that you had seen his wife and children upon their knees, giving those tears to gratitude, which their locked and frozen hearts could not give to anguish and despair, and imploring the blessings of Eternal Providence upon his head, who had graciously spared the father, and restored him to his children; that you had seen the olive branch sent into his little ark, but no sign that the waters had subsided—“Alas! nor wife, nor children more shall he behold, nor friends, nor sacred home !” No seraph mercy unbars his dungeon, and leads him forth to light and life, but the minister of death hurries him to the scene of suffering and of shame; where, unmoved by the hostile array of artillery and armed men collected together, to se. cure or to insult, or to disturb him, he dies with a solemn declaration of his innocence, and utters his last breath in a prayer for the liberty of his country! Let

insule med

o lemn de

« AnteriorContinuar »