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Let me now, in my turn, with the assistance of large letters, give emphasis to the words EN DANGERING THE PUBLIC PEACE. I do somerely for the purpose of suggesting—that whetherin pronouncing Orange Associations to be illegal, our learned Judge was warranted or not, will turn on a previous question, which he has forgotten to · discuss; viz. whether those societies, in their frame and constitution, be leagued for a common purpose, endungering the public peace. If not, however objectionable we might for argument suppose them, they would not fall within that class, which he has declared to be unlawful;' nor would any excesses, committed by Orangemen, operate ex post facto to il-legalize the institution; but the responsibility would all attach upon the individual transgressors. For the rest, if a rumor, which I do not vonch, were true, that the Judge of the Prerogative Court is an Orange-man, I should leave him and his friend Mr. Justice Fletcher to discuss, with whatever temper these two Civilians could command, the question, whether “ bills of indictment should be sent up," wherever “ the charge” of being an Orange-man is sustained. In Fermanagh, one of the counties of that North-West Circuit, to which his Lordship so frequently alludes, I doubt whether the consequences would be fatal to the Doctor; even though the (perhaps groundless) rumor, which I have noticed, was “a charge” dis- . tinctly made, and“ properly sustained.” .
Another report which has also reached me, is, that all oaths, even that of allegiance, have been abolished in the Orange system; which accordingly is not now, nor was when Judge Fletcher's charge was given, “a combination bound together by an oath.” · I am not an Orange-man; but I have always understood that the originating and common purpose of this institution was—to ve. nerate and preserve, as a sort of sacred flame, what, at the Revolution, was solemnly recognized as the true, and hailed as the immortal Spirit of our Constitution. If the same spirit animate our Establishments at this day, I find it difficult to conceive-how such a purpose can, abstractedly considered, endanger the public peace; or render those whom it has united an illegal combination. Widely, different the case of a Society would be, whose federative principle was not Loyalty, but Disaffection. Such a common purpose must endanger the country's peace; since from every well-affected subject of the land, its accomplishment, or furtherance, must encounter opposition. But though as well of Orange, as of Rib
" Here and elsewhere I assume, for argument, without meaning to pronounce, that the sentiments and language which this publication attributes to Judge Fletcher were really his.
2 Judge Fletcher is LL. D.
bon-Associations, what I shall call the technical illegality were as. certained, and though consequently a Judge, when required, would be obliged to wield the law indifferently against them both, does it follow, that in the mean time he should step out of his way, (especially during periods such as these in wbich we live) in order to link together and involve in common stigma, bodies substantially as distinct as true Allegiance is from Treason?
Yet his Editor would have us believe that Judge Fletcher went still further; and while he outlawed and anathematized both the Orange and the Green, yet contrived to reserve his emphasis of condemnation for the former, which he reprobated as productive “ of the most mischievous effects.” To such a pre-eminence I cannot admit its claim; nor join in the pursuit of this obnoxious color, with an antipathy as rational, as that which turkey cocks indulge in against reri cloaks.
Neither can I dissemble my surprise, that while giving to Orange Societies a rank so prominent and distinguished, in his list of the main sources of disquiet in this country, his Lordship should have so totally overlooked the Catholic Board; or his Editor have so entirely omitted this portion of bis Charge. To me that Board appears, in the agitations of this island, to have acted no obscure or secondary part. Much of the tempest, in which we have tossed, was of their brewing. Day after day they “untied the winds; and bad them fight against the Churches.” Day after day they scattered the seeds of rebellion far and wide. But at length the mighty whirlwind, in which they rode, is hushed; the storm of Bigotry and Faction, which they directed, is appeased. It fell, soon after Paris had struck to the Allies;' and I shall only now observe, that while the hurricane endured, its loudest fury roared against that not disloyal color, of which Judge Fletcher appears, from his printed Charge, to think so ill.
Upon the merits of the Orange System, on the whole, with a view to its salutary or pernicious influence on the state of Ireland, if it be not very difficult to form, it at least is somewhat irksome to offer, an opinion. I believe, if amongst the superior members of this order, (to the loyalty of which our country has been more than once indebted,) some hot-headed and intractable enthusiasts may be found, who mistake bigotry, and a narrow esprit du corps, for public spirit, yet that generally in the conduct, principles, and sentiments of these, nothing materially reprehensible prevails. But the order comprises various degrees of rank and cultivation; and to many of
1 The French capital surrendered on the 31st of March. Two months afterwards the Board yielded to the combined efficacy of the proclam-ation of Dublin, the capitul-ation of Paris, and abdic-ation of Fontainbleau.
its tiers etat, (I will not call them its canaille,) I more than doubt whether such favorable testimony could be borne. If amongst these poor knights of the Order, Orange discipline cannot check a rancer, which in vulgar soils the Orange principle excites, consequences more or less pernicious must ensue, and the system be in some sort answerable for these mischievous results. Again, if in times of peril, the Orange institution has been found of use, may not the very energies and wion which made it so, but render it the more objectionable, as a perinánent and peace establishment ?-lu claiming continually to keep guard over the spirit of the Constitution, does it not practically impeach the vigilance, intrude upon the functions, and usurp the legitimate privilege of the more regular Authorities of the State? Does it not assunie a political posture, of at least concurrent superintendance, which it scarcely suits the dignity of Government to brook? And is there, in the mean time, no ground for apprehension, that the fame, which Orange Lodges fan with so much zeal may, in some enthusiastic moment, blaze too high, and the tranquillity of the country be caught in it and consumed? Nevertheless, if considerations of State Prudence render it desirable that, in times no longer critical, the Orange Union should dissolve, still it is but justice to bear gratefully in mind, the sound and honorable principle, on which these Societies were founded; the aid which they lent to Ireland, in its need; and that conclusive testimony to their political uprightness, which may be extracted from the abhorrence in which they have ever been held by Treason. Bodies such as these ought not to be hooted down; or disbanded with any marks of ignominy or disgrace. We should beware of inadvertently promoting the views of those, who, while they vociferate against the Orange glare, are longing to refresh their aching eyes on Green. It were impolitic as well as base, to turn our backs on men, who never turned theirs upon the King and Constitution; it were folly to allow the flame of loyalty to expire; while we were cherishing a spirit of-perhaps treacherous-repose, No: with that “ gratitude for past services” which Judge Fletcher recommends, let us take leave of liege societies, whose efforts are no longer wanted; and casting a veil over those excesses, into which some members may have fallen, conjure the body, in the name of the Constitution, to dissolve. Should the hour of danger come, we know they will be found, reunited, at their post:- but in the mean time they should remember, that Political Associations, acting independently of the Executive Government, however legal we may suppose them, are anomalies in the State.
Private Distillation supplies Judge Fletcher with another topic. He inveighs against it as “ one of the greatest practical mischiefs; by which the morals of the people are depraved, and their pro
ceedings rendered riotous and savage.” Nay, considering the ferocity which spirituous liquors are known to inspire, he does not scruple to include murder in the catalogue of its effects.-Be it so. Towards extirpating what is branded as so ruinous a practice, has not Parliament adopted measures of so vigorous a nature, that some are even disposea to censure them as too severe? Why then accuse Government of applying, to the disorders of this country, no remedies but banishment, the gibbet, and the rope? In truth (and by the way) if the Accuser bad looked back, but to the Acts of the last Session, he would have found the Minister for Ireland, attentively observing the situation of our humbler classes; not despising those sceming nugæ, quæ seria ducunt in mala; not disdaining to examine the minutiæ of lowly grievance; and pry into what may be called the early rudiments of tumult. He would have discovered him employed in assisting the poor man to recover the little earnings of his industry, when withheld, without the usual costs or delays of litigation. He would have found him making provision for the prevention of assaults, (that is to say, nipping riot and disturbance in the bud), by rendering it easier, and less expensive to the assaulted, to obtain redress. I allude to chapters 116 and 181 of the Fiftyfourth of the King.
As for the laws for suppressing illicit distillation, I doubt my being properly qualified to criticize them; even as far as they can, decorously, be made the objects of animadversion. I have prejudices to encounter; which may not be the more easily conquered, because they are my own. I therefore listen to myself—and do you also listen to me--with distrust; more especially when I have acknowledged, that persons of whose good intentions towards this country I have no doubt, and of whose judgment I have every reason to think well, are not only advocates for the existing system ; but (to adopt the language of their uwn confession) would contemplate its abandonment with very great reluctance.
Nevertheless, this Still Fine Law, having been enacted, tried, relinquished, and resumed, may be considered as holding the Legislative favor by a precarious sort of tenure; and as exposed to the possibility of being abandoned once again. If this were to occur, I might be led to think that the doubts started by many, of its expediency, had some strength : on the contrary, if the present arrangement is persevered in, I shall conclude, that in the objections which are made to it, there is no sufficient weight; and that whatever inevitable evil it may occasion, is abundantly countervailed by the benefits which it procures.
I have heard persons of intelligence, very confidently assert, that it was upon the point of effecting its purpose, at the moment when it was laid aside. But that it was ineffectual appeared; that it would have become efficient, has not yet been proved. NO. IX.
Pam. VOL. V.
Be this, however, as it may, for the removal of the mischief, against which this system points, it will not be denied that great sacrifices have been made. . Thus the Law, as it now stands, involves the abrogation of certain rules of evidence, which, founded in first principles of morality and justice, are usually suffered, in other cases, to prevail. On the contrary, in these, the testimony of a person, directly and strongly interested, is received. If he were not scrupulous, and had credit, he might earn a handsome, if not an honest competence, by oaths. A callous conscience would, in this case, be his capital; while the Gospels of God were the implements of his trade; and the temporal pains of perjury the sole impediments to his fortune.--The oath of a person, tempted as I have described, may not only produce the punishment of a criminal, real or supposed, (attended with an accessory, and sort of qui tam gratification to himself;) but may frequently involve in heavy penalties many others, who, through the medium of this system, appear guilty of having connived at what, to a cursory observer, it seems highly improbable they should have known; and wbo, be their actual innocence what it may, must abide the consequences of constructive and technical offence. Meantime, the peasant inhabitant of a large townland is puzzled, to conceive how one really not guilty, can be an offender by implication, and in point of law; nor, whatever be the stock of Irish Disaffection upon hands, does this seem likely to be materially diminished, by affording an excuse to our Peasantry, for imagining that under our law, the path of innocence is not always the road to safety. But I already mentioned, that the merit attributed to this system, is not so much that the price which it pays is low; as that the benefit which it purchases is great. I mentioned its being deemed necessary that sacrifices should be made; and formidably much we should have sacrificed indeed, if the Subject once mistook for his oppressor, that Law, which he should cling to, as his protector and his friend.
Having already warned you of my bias, I may with the less risk of unduly influencing your judgment, continue shall I call it my tirade ?--not indeed against the system, but against certain faults which I suppose it to contain ; faults, outweighed by excellences, to which my prejudice is blind; but which are visible, I again confess, to abler men than me, and whose integrity, though I may equal, I am far from claiming to surpass.
Let me inquire, then, how are the inhabitants of a townland to secure themselves from fiue ? Shall they turn their industry into a new channel, and instead of cultivating their farms, or following their trades, adopt the profession-errant of Still-hunters and Informers ? This restless calling they could give over, as soon as illicit distillation was put down. But, for this event, (mutter those