Page images

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 ser vice 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 a disadvantage in immediately following him.

And assuredly I design no disrespect to this court; either to the 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

1 Michael T. Crean.


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 supposesthe 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 endeavored 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 jurorCatholie, 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, among 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 among whom his lot is cast to judge him on such an issue as this.

Freely I acknowledge that right. Readily I have re


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.

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 honorable 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 a while 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 among 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 honor and glorify murder—to sympathize with murderers as

« PreviousContinue »