Imágenes de página

sinking into poverty, d.sgrace, and excesses, and offender shall be amenable? Without it, where the means of those shocking abuses increased is the ear to hear, or the heart to feel, or the for the purpose of revenue.

hand to redress their sufferings ? Shall thes be “We ask ourselves, 'Are we in England ?' found, let me ask you, in the accursed bands of Have our forefathers fought, bled, and conquered imps and minions that bask in their disgrace, for liberty? And did they not think that the and latten upon their spoils, and flourish upon fruits of their patriotism would be more abund- their ruin? But let me not put this to you as ant in peace, plenty, and happiness?

a merely speculative question. It is a plain “Is the condition of the poor never to be im- question of fact: rely upon it, physical ilan is proved ?

every where the same; it is only the various "Great Britain must have arrived at the high operations of moral causes that gives variety to est degree of national happiness and prosperity, the social or individual character and conditioa, and our situation must be too good to be mend- How otherwise happens it that modern slavery ed, or the present outcry against reforms and looks quietly at the despot, on the very spot where improvements is inhuman and criminal. But we Leonidas expired? The answer is easy; Sparta hope our condition will be speedily improved, has not changed her climate, but she has lost that and to obtain so desirable a good is the object government which her liberty could not survive. of our present association: a union founded on I call you, therefore, to the plain question of principles of benevolence and humanity; dis- fact. This paper recommends a remote claiming all connection with riots and disorder, form in Parliament: I put that ques. vacba repro but firm in our purpose, and warm in our affec- tion to your consciences; do you think rions for liberty.

it needs that reform? I put it boldly and fairly " Lastly, we invite the friends of freedom to you; do you think the people of Ireland are throughout Great Britain to form similar socie- represented as they ought to be? Do you hes. ties, and to act with unanimity and firmness, till itate for an answer? If you do, let me remind the people be too wise to be imposed upon, and you that, until the last year, three millions of their influence in the government be commensu- your countrymen have, by the express letter of rate with their dignity and importance. Then the law, been excluded from the reality of actashall we be free and happy.". Such, gentlemen, al, and even from the phantom of virtual repreis the language which a subject of Great Britain sentation. Shall we, then, be told that this is thinks himself warranted to hold, and upon such only the affirmation of a wicked and sedition: language has the corroborating sanction of a incendiary? If you do not feel the mockery of British jury been stamped by a verdict of ac- such a charge, look at your country; in what quittal. Such was the honest and manly free- state do you find it? Is it in a state of trandom of publication ; in a country, too, where the quillity and general satisfaction? These are complaint of abuses has not hall the foundation traces by which good are ever to be distin it has here. I said I loved to look to England guished from bad governments, without any very for principles of judicial example; I can not but minute inquiry or speculative refinement. Do say to you, that it depends on your spirit wheth- you feel that a veneration for the law, a pios er I shall look to it hereafter with sympathy or and humble attachment to the Constitution, forma with shame.

the political morality of the people? Do you Be pleased now, gentlemen, to consider find that comfort and competency among yout The motives whether the statement of the imper- people which are always to be found where a of the accused

sed section in your representation has been government is mild and moderate, where taxes were upright and pairivic. made with a desire of inflaming an are imposed by a body who have an interest in attack upon the public tranquillity, or with an treating the poorer orders with compassion, and honest purpose of procuring a remedy for an preventing the weight of taxation from pressing actually existing grievance. It is impossible not sore upon them? to revert to the situation of the times; and let Gentlemen, I mean not to impeach the stale me remind you, that whatever observations of of your representation; I am not say. The quando this kind I am compelled thus to make in a ing that it is defective, or that it ought presente court of justice, the uttering of them in this to be altered or amended; nor is this axis. place is not imputable to my client, but to the a place for me to say whether I think that three necessity of defense imposed upon him by this millions of the inhabitants of a country whose extraordinary prosecution.

whole number is but four, ought to be admitted Gentlemen, the representation of your people to any efficient situation in the state. It may leptance of is the vital principle of their political be said, and truly, that these are not questions in setual and fair represent

and existence. Without it they are dead, for either of us directly to decide ; but you can ninn of the or they live only to servitude; without not refuse them some passing consideration at

it there are two estates acting upon least, when you remember that on this subject and against the third, instead of acting in co-op- the real question for your decision is, whether eration with it; without it, if the people are op- the allegation of a defect in your Constitution is pressed by their judges, where is the tribunal to so utterly unfounded and false, that you can which their judges can be amenable? Without cribe it only to the malice and perverseness of it, if they are trampled upon and plundered by a wicked mind, and not to the innocent m'stake

minister, where is the tribunal to which the l of an ordinary understanding; whether ii maj


mot be mistake; waether it can be only sedi- | voice of your country." I ask ;ou, gentlei :ion.

do you think, as honest men, anxious for the And bere, gentlemen, I own I can not but re- lic tranquillity, conscious that there are wounds fariament gret that one of our countrymen should not yet completely cicatrized, that you ought to de les con be criminally pursued for asserting the speak this language at this time, to nien who are ulering it necessity of a reform, at the very mo- too much disposed to think that in this very ment when that necessity seems admitted by the emancipation they have been saved from their Parliament itself; that this unhappy reform shall, own Parliament by the humanity of their Sover. at the same moment, be a subject of legislative eign? Or, do you wish to prepare tsen. for the discussion and criminal prosecution. Far am I revocation of these improvident concessions ? from imputing any sinister design to the virtue Do you think it wise or humane, at this moment, or wisdom of our government; but who can to insult them, by sticking up in a pillory the avoid feeling the deplorable impression that must man who dared to stand forth their advocate? I be made on the public mind, when the demand put it to your oaths, do you think that a blessing for that reform is answered by a criminal inform- of that kind, that a victory obtained by justice ation! I am the more forcibly impressed by this over bigotry and oppression, should have a stig. consideration, when I consider that when this ma cast upon it by an ignominious sentence upon information was first put on the file, the subject men bold and honest enough to propose that was transiently mentioned in the House of Co-measure; to propose the redeeming of religion mons. Some circumstances retarded the prog- from the abuses of the Church--the reclaiming ress of the inquiry there, and the progress of the of three millions of men from bondage, and giv. information was equally retarded here. On the ing liberty to all who had a right to demand it first day of this session, you all know, that sub- -giving, I say, in the so much censured words ject was again brought forward in the House of of this paper, "UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION !" I Commons, and, as if they had slept together, this speak in the spirit of the British law, which prosecution was also revived in the Court of makes liberty commensurate with, and insepaKing's Bench, and that before a jury taken from rabla from, the British soil-which proclaims, a panel partly composed of those very members | even to the stranger and the sojourner, the moof Parliament who, in the House of Commons, ment he sets his foot upon British earth, that the must debate upon this subject as a measure of ground on which he treads is holy, and conse. public advantage, which they are here called crated by the genius of UNIVERSAL EMANCIPAupon to consider as a public crime.

TION. No matter in what language his doom This paper, gentlemen, insists upon the neces- may have been pronounced; no matter what 12.) Catholic sity of emancipating the Catholics of complexion incompatible with freedom an Indian emateipation. Ireland, and that is charged as a part or an African sun may have burned upon him; of the libel. If they had kept this prosecution no matter in what disastrous battle his liberty impending for another year, how much would re- may have been cloven down; no matter with main for a jury to decide upon, I should be at a what solemnities he may have been devoted upon loss to discover. It seems as if the progress of the altar of slavery; the first moment he touchpublic reformation was eating away the ground cs the sacred soil of Britain, the altar and the of the prosecution. Since the commencement of god sink together in the dust; his soul walks the prosecution, this part of the libel has unluck abroad in her own majesty ; his body swells be. ily received the sanction of the Legislature. In yond the measure of his chains that burst fron that interval, our Catholic brethren have obtain around him, and he stands redeemed, regenerated, ed that admission which, it seems, it was a libel and disenthralled, by the irresistible genius of to propose. In what way to account for this, I UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION.S au really at a loss. Have any alarms been oc. (Here Mr. Curran was interrupted by a sud. casioned by the emancipation of our Catholic den burst of applause from the court and hall brethren? Has the bigoted malignity of any in- Aster some time, silence was restored by the audividuals been crushed? Or, has the stability thority of Lord Clonmel, who acknowledged the of the government, or has that of the country pleasure which he himself felt at the brilliant disbeen weakened? Or, are one million of subjects play of professional talent, but disapproved of any stronger than three millions? Do you think that intemperate expressions of applause in a court the benefit they received should be poisoned by of justice. Mr. Curran then proceeded :) the stings of vengeance? If you think so, you Gentlemen, I am not such a fool as to ascribe must say to them, “You have demanded your any effusion of this sort to any merit. emancipation, and you have got it; but we abhor of mine. It is the mighty theme, dividual, but your persons, we are outraged at your success; and not the inconsiderable advocate, demands strong and we will stigmatize, by a criminal prosecu. that can excite interest in the hear. blatements. tion, the relief which you have obtained from the er. What you hear is but the testimony which

• The jory was taken from a panel containing the The origin of this fine passage may be traced w dames of a number of members of Parliament. the following lines of Cow per:

1 In 1793, after the prosecution was commenced, a Blaves can not breathe in England; if their langs bill passed the Irish Parliament giving the right of! Receive our air that moment they are free; saffrage to Catholics, and conferring a large part of: They touch our country, and their shackles fall the rights and privileges desired.

T'ask, book is

It is not the in

The interests of

land inseparable.

nature hears to her own character, it is the ef- one goes no further back than the year 1784. 11 fusion of her gratitude to that Power which it required additional confirmation, I should state stamped that character. And, gentlemen, per- the case of the invaded American, and the subju. mit me to say, that if my client had occasion to gated Indian, to prove that the policy of England defend his cause by any mad or drunken appeals has ever been to govern ber connectious more as to extravagance or licentiousness, I trust in God, colonies than allies; and it must be owing to the I stand in that situation, that, humble as I am, he great spirit, indeed, of Ireland, if she shall conwould not have resorted to me to be his advocate. tinue free. Rely upon it, she will ever bave to I was not recommended to his choice by any hold her course against an adverse current; rely connection of principle or party, or even private apon it, if the popular spring does not contince friendship; and, saying this, I can not but add, firm and elastic, a short interval of debilitated that I consider not to be acquainted with such a nerve and broken force will send you down the man as Mr. Rowan a want of personal good for- stream again, and reconsign you to the condition tune. Gentlemen, upon this great subject of re- of a province. form and emancipation, there is a latitude and If such should become the fate of your Conboldness of remark, justifiable in the people, and stitution, ask yourselves what must be Iteised tego necessary to the defense of Mr. Rowan, for which the motive of your government? It is and the habits of professional studies, and technical easier to govern a province by a fac. 3 faction adherence to established forms, have rendered me tion, than to govern a co-ordinate country hy co unfit. It is, however, my duty, standing here as ordinate means. I do not say it is now, but it his advocate, to make some few observations to will be always thought easiest by the managers you, which I conceive to be material.

of the day, to govern the Irish nation by the Gentlemen, you are sitting in a country that agency of such a faction, as long as this coun

has a right to the British Constitu- try shall be found willing to let her connection England and Iro. tion, and which is bound by an in with Great Britain be preserved only by her own

able. dissoluble union with the British na- degradation. In such a precarious and wretched tion. If you were now even at liberty to debate state of things, if it shall ever be found to exist, upon that subject if you even were not by the the true friend of Irish liberty and British conmost solemn compacts, founded upon the author nection will see that the only means of saving ity of your ancestors and of yourselves, bound to both must be, as Lord Chatham expressed it, that alliance, and had an election now to make, “the infusion of new health and blood into the in the present unhappy state of Europe-if you Constitution." He will see how deep a stake had heretofore been a stranger to Great Britain, each country has in the liberty of the other; he you would now say, we will enter into society will see what a bulwark he adds to the commor and union with you :

cause, by giving England a co-ordinate and coCommune periculum,

interested ally, instead of an oppressed, ensee Una salus ambobus erit.'

bled, and suspected dependent; he will see ho But to accomplish that union, let me te!) you, grossly the credulity of Britain is abused by those you must learn to become like the English peo- who make her believe that her solid interest is ple: it is vain to say you will protect their free. promoted by our depression; he will see the des. dom, if you abandon your own. The pillar whose perate precipice to which she approaches, by base has no foundation can give no support to the such a conduct, and, with an animated and sen. dome under which its head is placed; and if you erous piety, he will labor to avert her danger. profess to give England that assistance which / But, gentlemen of the jury, what is likely to be you refuse to yourselves, she will laugh at your his fate? The interest of the Sovereign most be Colly, and despise your meanness and insincerity.

| forever the interest of his people, because his inLet us follow this a little further; I know you terest lives beyond his life; it must live in his we will interpret what I say with the can

fame-it must live in the tenderness of his solieEngland to dedor in which it is spoken. England is

| itude for an unborn posterity-it mast live in that parts oferecer marked by a natural avarice or free heart-attaching bond, by which millions of men empire. dom, which she is studious to engross

have united the destinies of themselves and their and accumulate, but most unwilling to impart, children with his, and call him by the endearing whether from any necessity of her policy, or appellation of King and father of his people. from her weakness, or from her pride, I will not

But what can be the interest of such a govern presume to say; but that so is the fact, you need ment as I have described ? Not the interest o not look to the East or to the West-you need the King, not the interest of the people; but the only look to yourselves. In order to confirm that sordid interest of the hour; the interest in deobservation. I would appeal to what fell from the ceiving the one, and in oppressing and deformo. learned counsel for the Crown, that notwithstand- / ing the other; the interest of unpunished rapine ing the alliance subsisting for two centuries past, and unmerited favor; that odious and abject inbetween the two countries, the date of liberty interest that prompts them to extinguish public

spirit in punishment or in bribe ; and to pursue . To both alike one danger and one safety. every man even to death who has sense to see,

The words are those of Æneas, addressed to his and integrity and firmness enough to abbor aad father as he was bearing bir from Troy - Æneid, to oppose them. What, therefore, I say, gentle. book ii., 709-10.

men, will be the fate of the man who embarkı

press the other

Their reference

in an enterprise of so much difficulty and danger? | gestion of a mind anxious for the public good, I I will not answer it. Upon that hazard has my must confess, gentlemen, I do not know in waaz client put every thing that can be dear to nian : part of the British Constitution to find the prinhis fame, kis fortune, his person, his liberty, and ciple of his criminality. ais children; but with what event your verdict But, gentlemen, be pleased further to consider only can answer, and to that I refer your coun- | that he can not be understood to put their ury.

the fact on which he argues on the to the case of

England. Gentlemen, there is a fourth point remaining. authority of his assertion. The con(0) Call fa Says this paper, " for both these pur dition of Ireland was as open to the observation seireete 2. poses, it appears necessary that pro. of every other man as to that of Mr. Rowan. vincia conventions should assemble preparatory What, then, does this part of the publication to the convention of the Protestant people. The amount to? In my mind, simply to this : "the delegates of the Catholic body are not justified in nature of oppression in all countries is such that, communicating with individuals, or even bodies although it may be borne to a certain degree, it of an inferior authority, and therefore an assem- can not be borne beyond that degree. You find bly of a similar nature and organization is nec- it exemplified in Great Britain. You find the essary to establish an intercourse of sentiment, a people of England patient to a certain point; uniformity of conduct, a united cause, and a unit- but patient no longer. That infatuated moned nation. If a convention on the one part does arch James II. experienced this. The time did not soon follow, and is not connected with that come when the measure of popular suffering and on the other, the common cause will split into popular patience was full; when a single drop partial interests; the people will relax into inat- was sufficient to make the waters of bitterness tention and inertness; the union of affection and to overflow. I think this measure in Ireland is exertion will dissolve, and too probably some lo- brimful at present. I think the state of repre. cal insurrection, instigated by the malignity of our sentation of the people in Parliament is a grievcommon enemy, may commit the character and ance. I think the utter exclusion of three millrisk the tranquillity of the island, which can be ions of people is a grievance of that kind that the obviated only by the influence of an assembly people are not likely long to endure; and the conarising from, and assimilated with the people, tinuation of which may plunge the country into and whose spirit may be, as it were, knit with that state of despair which wrongs exasperated the soul of the nation--unless the sense of the by perseverance never fail to produce." But to Protestant people be, on their part, as fairly col-whom is even this language addressed ? Not lected and as judiciously directed, unless individ- to the body of the people, on whose temper and bal exertion consolidates into collective strength, moderation, if once excited, perhaps not much unless the particles unite into one mass, we may confidence could be placed ; but to that authori perhaps serve some person or some party for a tative body whose influence and power would little, but the public not at all. The nation is have restrained the excesses of the irritable and neither insolent, nor rebellious, nor seditious. tumultudus; and for that purpose expressly does While it knows its rights, it is unwilling to man this publication address the Volunteers. “We ifest its powers. It would rather supplicate ad are told that we are in danger. I call upon you, ministration to anticipate revolution by well the great constitutional saviors of Ireland, to detimed reform, and to save their country in mercy fend the country to which you have given politto themselves."

ical existence; and use whatever sanction your Gentlemen, it is with something more than great name, your sacred character, and the Irun import common reverence, it is with a species weight you have in the community, must give of the words of terror, that I am obliged to tread this you to repress wicked designs, if any there are." ground. But what is the idea put in the stron. “We feel ourselves strong. The people are yest point of view. “We are willing not to man always strong. The public chains can only be ifest our powers, but to supplicate administration riveted by the public hands. Look to those deto anticipate revolution, that the Legislature may | voted regions of southern despotism. Behold tho save the country in mercy to itself."

expiring victim on his knees, presenting the jav. Let me suggest to you, gentlemen, that there elin reeking with his blood to the ferocious monNe guilt in

ster who returns it into his heart. Call not that are some circumstances which have them if the mo bappened in the history of this counmonster the tyrant. He is no more than the ex. tire was nght

*** try, that may better serve as a com ecutioner of that inhuman tyranny which the peoment upon this part of the case than any I can ple practice upon themselves, and of which he is make. I am not bound to defend Mr. Rowan only reserved to be a later victim than the wretch as to the truth or wisdom of the opinions he may he has sent before. Look to a nearer country, bave formed. But if he did really conceive the | where the sanguinary characters are more legisituation of the country to be such that the not re ble; whence you almost hear the groans of death dressing her grievances might lead to a convul and torture. Do you ascribe the rapine and mur sion, and of such an opinion not even Mr. Row der of France to the few names that we are ex. an is answerable here for the wisdom, much less ecrating here ? or do you not see that it is the shall I insinuate any idea of my own upon so aw- frenzy of an insuriated multitude abusing its own Bu a subject; but if he did so conceivo the fact strength, and practicing those hideous abomina. ..) be, and acted from the fair and honest sug- tions upon itself. Against the violenr.) of thit


streng:5 let your virtue and influence be our sale- | in 1782, met by delegation; they framed a pia guard'

of parliamentary reform; they presented it to the What criminality, gentlemen of the jury, can representative wisdom of the nation. It was not Not designed to you find in this? What at any time? received; but no man ever dreamed that it was steater burcle. But I ask you, particularly at this mo- not the undoubted right of the subject to assem. aace in Ireland. mentous period, what guilt can you ble in that manner. They assembled, by dele. find in it? My client saw the scene of borror gation, at Dungannon; and to show the idea then and blood which covers almost the face of Eu- entertained of the legality of their public con. rope. He feared that causes, which he thought duct, that same body of Volunteers was thanked sinar, might produce similar effects; and he by both Houses of Parliament, and their dele. seeks to avert those dangers by calling the unit- gates most graciously received at the Throne ed virtue and tried moderation of the country into The other day you had delegated representatives a state of strength and vigilance. Yet this is the for the Catholics of Ireland, publicly elected by conduct which the prosecution of this day seeks the members of that persuasion, and sitting in to stigmatize; and this is the language for which convention in the heart of your capital, carrying this paper is reprobated to-day, as tending to turn on an actual treaty with the existing governthe hearts of the people against their Sovereign, ment, and under the eye of your own Parliaand inviting them to overturn the Constitution. ment, which was then assembled; you have seen Let us now, gentlemen, consider the conclud- the delegates from that convention carry the

e ing part of this publication. It rec- complaints of their grievances to the foot of the The right of holding conven. ommends a meeting of the people to throne, from whence they brought back to that the right at pe deliberate on constitutional methods convention the auspicious tidings of that redress

of redressing grievances. Upon this which they had been resused at home. subjec: I am inclined to suspect that I have in Such, gentlemen, have been the means of pop my youth taken up crude ideas, not founded, per- ular communication and discussion, which, until haps, in law; but I did imagine that when the the last session, have been deemed legal in this Bill of Rights restored the right of petitioning for country, as, happily for the sister kingdom, they the redress of grievances, it was understood that are yet considered there. the people might boldly state among themselves I do not complain of this act as any infractior ibat grievances did exist; that they might law. of popular liberty ; I should not think Under this fully assemble themselves in such a manner as it becoming in me to express any com- law the fire they might deem most orderly and decorous. I | plaint against a law, when once be- press doabla

important. thought I had collected it from the greatest lu- come such. I observe only, that one *** minaries of the law. The power of petitioning mode of popular deliberation is thereby taken seemed to me to imply the right of assembling utterly away, and you are reduced to a situation for the purpose of deliberation. The law requir- in which you never stood before. You are liv. ing a petition to be presented by a limited num- ing in a country where the Constitution is right. ber, seemed to me to admit that the petition ly stated to be only ten years old—where the might be prepared by any number whatever, people have not the ordinary rudiments of eduprovided, in doing so, they did not commit any cation. It is a melancholy story that the lower breach or violation of the public peace. I know orders of the people here have less means of be

that there has been a law passed in the ing enlightened than the same class of people in was foroidden Irish Parliament of last year which any other country. If there be no means left by

may bring my former opinion into a which public measures can be canvassed, what merited want of authority. That law declares, will be the consequence? Where the press is

that no body of men may delegate a power to free, and discussion unrestrained, the mind, by any similar number, to act, think, or petition for the collision of intercourse, gets rid of its own them !" If that law had not passed, I should asperities; a sort of insensible perspiration takes have thought that the assembling by a delegated place in the body politic, by which those aericonvention was recommended, in order to avoid monies, which would otherwise fester and inthe tumult and disorder of a promiscuous assem- flame, are quietly dissolved and dissipated. But bly of the whole mass of the people. I should now, if any aggregate assembly shall meet, they have conceived, before that act, that any law io are censured; is a printer publishes their resoAbridge the orderly appointment of the few to lutions, he is punished rightly, to be sure, is consult for the interest of the many, and thus both cases, for it has been lately done. If the force the many to consult by themselves, or not people say, let us not create tumult, but meet in a. all, would in fact be a law not to restrain, but delegation, they can not do it; if they are anx. to promote insurrection. But that law has spok- ious to promote parliamentary reform iu that en, and my error must stand corrected. Or this, way, they can not do it; the law of the last ses.

however, let me remind you. You sion has, for the first time, declared such neelRot to be tried are to try this part of the publication ings to be a crime. What then remains! Tie by that law.

by what the law was then : not. by liberty of the press onlythat sacred palladium what it is now. How was it understood until which no influence, no power, no minister, da last session of Parliament ? You had both in government, which nothing but the depravitr, at England and Ireland, for the last ten years, these folly, or corruption of a jury, can ever destros. delegated meetings. The Volunteers of Ireland, And what calamities are the people saved

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »