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expense of this extraordinary establishment, which cannot exceed the rate of 35001. a year, and is likely to fall very short of this amount, is to be entirely borne by the district which is disturbed.--This, in my mind, forms a just and useful part of the arrangement; inasmuch as the prospect of a virtual penalty, of this description, is at once calculated to prevent the tumults which are thus mulcted; and to discourage an unnecessary call upon the government, for that proclamation which is requisite, towards bringing the statute into action; a call, by the way, which in his wisdoin and discretion, the Lord Lieutenant, with the advice of his Privy Council, may attend to, or disregard.
In approving of that implied penalty which has just been noticed, I apprehend that I shall not be found inconsistent with my. self. Public outrage bears no resemblance to private distillation. Hæc amat obscurum ; while the former instead of eluding, almost solicits observation. As soon as the first gust of tumult strikes their ears, the vicinage should unite to prevent its rising to a storm, This is a natural, a manly, and a reputable duty. I would not hesitate to apprehend a rioter; or to beat up the quarters of a dis. turber of the public peace; though I might be ashamed of whispering a guager where he could surprise a distiller on his form. I would lie in wait for midnight gangs, or search for plundered arms; although I might be slow to rummage out-houses for stillheads and worms; or learn to distinguish pot-ale from hog-wash, by the taste. Those who dwell together may, without impropriety, be held answerable for that good behaviour of each other, which consists in refraining from all breaches of the peace; and such was accordingly their responsibility by our ancient common law :'-but no British subject should be called upon to sacrifice the conforts of that rank, or compromise the dignity of that honorable title, by entangling himself in abject, troublesome, and degrading occupations.
Where there are no substantial coniras, it is not easy to imagine pros. Au argument upon one side implies that the question has another, on which something may be said; and accordingly, if upon the statute now before us I have offered little, it is because I feel puzzled, pretty much as I should be, if required to demonstrate that two and two make four.
Upon this part of my subject I shall therefore close, with an inquiry, whether, in a country so prone to disturbances as Ireland seenis to be, a measure calculated to suppress them can be considered as ill-tiined, at a moment when the restoration of peace (all sublunary good has its alloy,) may throw such a leaven of idle, turbulent, and disorderly matter in upon us ? And when it might be
* Blackst. Com. Introd, sect. 4. and elsewhere.
added) in consequence of what passed recently at Fontainbleau, the conscripts of sedition inay have also been disbanded, and thus precipitated at once from the sublimities of treason, to those humbler walks of domestic violence and outrage, in which, henceforth, they must keep the not“ noiseless tenor of their way ?”
But is not the expediency of this act beyond contradiction vouched, by that application which the Tipperary magistrates have made,-shall I say against, or on behalf of, the barony of Middlethird ?
Neither is the manner undeserving of remark, in which the powers vested in the government by this statute have been exercised, on this first occasion for exerting them. Mr. Willcocks has been appointed the superintending magistrate; and that experience and fitness for the office, which he will be allowed eminently to possess; we must, in common candor, conclude to have been his recommendations to the appointment. The chief constable has been selected from the Dublin police, on the recommendation of the head office there. The chief clerk had served the late commissioners of inquiry, and has every testimony in his favor from them ;-and the sub-constables have been chosen from amongst those discharged serjeants of militia, who could produce the strongest certificates of good conduct.
We are not to argue against the use, from the abuse of an institution ; unless it can be shown that, from its inherent nature, this was peculiarly liable to be abused. But even were such a source of argument open to us, it yet is plain, from the facts which I have just mentioned, that we could not turn its course against the government of this country.
Such is the act of Parliament, of which Judge Fletcher's Charge, if not seriously, yet truly, has pronounced, that “ it is a wholesome' mode of administering the old powers, already vested in the magistrates, by law.". The seriousness of the commendation is ren
· Wholesome, as long as the diseased symptoms, to which it is applicable, are unremoved.
2 A MS. report, which I have seen, represents Judge Fletcher as taking a widely different view of the statute ; and calling it a wholesome mode of administering the old law of the Curfew. Though this MS. note is said to have been taken by one, who has the character of being correct, I am inclined to doubt his accuracy, wliere I find him representing a paragraph as termi. nating with “ Oh Mr. Peel! Mr. Peel !".-If the Charge contained (but it cannot have contained) such an apostrophe as this, one might be tempted, in a paraphrase of the old parody, to cry
O Justice Fletcher ! Justice Fletcher, 0! Nay, completing the distich, to inquire,
Was this polite ? decorous ? judge-like ?
dered more than doubtful, as well by the general context, whicle seems to import no vehement approbation of either statute,' - às by the sneering tone of the familiarities which follow; “ Now, you are to meet: a head magistrate is to be appointed, at a salary of 7001. a year; he is also to have a house and offices : his clerk is to get a salary of 1501. a year; the constables are to get 1001. a year each; any seven of your magistrates may get all this done : but listen to one thing more: the disturbed district is to pay the expense of the whole.”—What was really said about these Acts [ cannot tell : what is reported I do not relish. It is not admirable on the score either of wit or of decorum; and I am less disposed to describe it as “insufferubly clever," than to doubt whether it be not a little tou“ ficriously to the purpose.”2
,,I come now to that temporary statute (for such it is) which received the royal assent on the 30th of last July; very shortly after that which I have just been considering. To this law, I have little fear that it will be never necessary to recur. I hope that it will act, and have reason to think that it has operated, as a preventive of those disturbances, against which, by punishments so summary and deterring, it provides. This is precisely the operation which we must desire it to have. In the language of Judge Fletcher, its efficacy should consist in “ that wholesome warning to the turbulent and audacious," which “ the notoriety of its existence, in the Statute book," will produce.--In the mean time it is merely a revival of a statute commonly called the Insurrection act; which passed, for the first time, in 1796; and for the last in 1807; from which period it remained in force for three years. By the way, does my memory deceive me? or had this act, in the year last mentioned, the support of Mr. Grattan? and did he upon that, or even some subsequent occasion, avow his opinion, that there existed a French party in this country? Assuredly, and at least, I am not mistaken in pronouncing the year 1807 to be included within that “ entire period of judicial experience, comprising sixteen circuits,4 during which” Judge Fletcher has assured us, that he never “ discovered or observed any serious purpose, or settled scheme, of assailing his Majesty's government; or any conspiracy connected with internal rebels, or foreign foes.” So entirely and quickly, (and spite of the fretting causes enumerated by his Lordship) had the country got rid
The answer to which interrogatory would fill up the metre, and supply tho rhyme. But, I repeat it, here the MS. reporter must be incorrect. . Either the 131st or 180th chapters of the 54th of the King. ? See Walter Scott's Life of Dryden, p. 526. Note.
3 Stat. 54th of the King, c. 180. 4 The years from 1807 to 1814, both inclusive, would comprise no more than sixteen circuits.
of those acrimonious humors, which, after having broken forth in the rebellion of 1798, again showed themselves so alarmingly in the summer of 1803!So strange must have been the conduct, so unwarrantable the assertion of any member of Parliament, pretending to be a friend of Ireland, who in 1807, when our learned Judge's career of circuits had begun, supported a bill, amounting to“ a complete suspension of the constitution;" and alleged that in this country, a French party might be found!
To this part of the subject it is my intention to return. In the mean time allow me to acknowlege my surprise, that before he attempted to comment on the statute now before us,' his Lordship did not read it with more scrupulous attention, than there is any trace of in his printed charge. In the latter part of the seventh clause he would have seen, that if magistrates could be found, base enough to consult their private interest in the deternination of a freehold, by transporting those upon whose lives the lease depended, the very provisions of the law itself precluded so gross and infamous an abuse of power;" and that the “ fell serjeant,” to whom he unceremoniously enough alludes, is authorised to be “ so strict in his arrest” of improper judgments, that no irregular“ trips across the Atlantic” need be feared.
Both the statutes, which I have been discussing, rest on the disturbances of this country, as the ground for their enactment: but the one, now more immediately under consideration, contemplating disorders of a particular description, adverts to a state of things, no vestige of which has Judge Fletcher been ever able, in his eight. years judicial experience, to detect :-I mean a state of actual or impending disturbance, originating in the machinations of “ seditious persons.”
That the country night happen to be disturbed (and that so far the recitals of this statute may be acquiesced in)" by persons entering into unla:vful combinations ;” the learned judge would probably allow: for he pronounces all Societies of Orange (and indeed of Ribbon) men to be unlawful combinations; and the former of these
'Stat. 54 G. III. C. 180. 2« Gentlemen, I have seen times when persons, who thinking the lives named in their tenants' leases, were lasting too long, have, by the aid of such a law, found means to recommerd a trip across the Atlantic, to the persons thus unreasonably attached to life; and thus achieved the downfal of a beneficial lease; and a comfortable rise of their income in consequence. Such things have occurred. I have known the fact." Judge Fletcher's printed Charge,p. 404. No. viii.
3 “ You are to have the assistance of a learned serjeant from town; who may send abroad offenders in a summary way,"--P. 403--This languag every much resembles persifflage.
to be so likely to produce disturbance, that “ until they are effectually put down, in vain will the north of Ireland expect tranquillity or peace.”
But as for “ any conspiracy, connected with internal rebels, or with foreign foes,” not the faintest trace of this, during the whole term of his public career, has he discerned. For about three years of that term the Insurrection act was in force; under arms, and ready to be called, if requisite, into action. Has the country been equally quiet since its expiration? The fall of the Insurrection act, and rise of the Catholic Board,-have, or have not these seemed to be the signals for disquiet? Judge Fletcher would say not; for that from the moment of his ascending the bench until the present, whatever heavings of a more private kind there may have been, yet as far as conspiracy or sedition are concerned, the population of Ireland has been
“ Calm and unruffled as a summer sea.” Others, however, have taken a different view of the state of things.
These, more timorous, or less prejudiced, with stronger discernment, or weaker nerves, have thought the plundering of arms to be a suspicious and alarming sort of outrage; betraying ulterior objects; and but furnishing the means for some (probably) rebellious end. Extensive and secret, yet audacious confederacies against the law, they have considered as closely allied to conspiracy against the state ; and have held the classification to be too refineci, which distinguishes the insurrectionary spirit from sedition. Is not law an emanation and effluence from the constitution ? and shall we be told that multitudes in array against the former, must not be mistaken for, or confounded with, the seditious ? Besides, those who in credulity or sagacity exceed Judge Fletcher, connecting what they see perpetrated with what they have heard taught, and distinctly perceiving the preceptof the master to be political, attribute a like character to the practice of the pupil. If the lower orders of the Catholics proclaim a terror, affected or inspired, for those bugbears called Orangemen, the speeches, bellowed at their Board, give chapter and verse for this pretence, or this sensation. The intentionally mischievous harangues at this committee,—their reports, to aggregate meetings, of seditious progress,- ihe paragraphs in some of our daily, and our monthly publications, the studied and systematic efforts to bring the administration of justice into disrepute, by aspersions upon all who are appointed to dispense it; jurors, magistrates, and judges of the king's superior courts,—the coarse insolence with which the government is insulied and traduced,—these have made, on men who pass (with themselves at least) for rational, impressions different from those which Judge Fletcher has avowed. These conceive that the language of factious NO. IX.
Pam. VOL. V. MI