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law," no doubt, and to hold law in “ disesteem” is “sedition.”
Men were convicted and executed “ according to law;" yet the people demonstrated sympathy for them and resentment against their executioners—most perversely, as a solicitorgeneral doubtless would say. And, indeed, the State papers contain accounts of those demonstrations, written by Crown officials, which sound very like the Solicitor-General's speech to-day. Take, for instance, the execution—“ according to law”—of the “popish bishop” O'Hurley. Here is the letter of a State functionary on the subject:
“I could not before now so impart to her Majesty as to know her mind touching the same for your lordship’s direction. Wherefore, she having at length resolved, I have accordingly, by her commandment, to signify her Majesty's pleasure unto you touching Hurley, which is this: That the man being so notorious and ill a subject, as appeareth by all the circumstances of his cause he is, you proceed, if it may be, to his execution by ordinary trial of him for it. Howbeit, in case you shall find the effect of his course doubtful by reason of the affection of such as shall be on his jury, and by reason of the supposal conceived by the lawyers of that country that he can hardly be found guilty for his treason committed in foreign parts against her Majesty, then her pleasure is to take a shorter way with him, by martial law. So, as you may see, it is referred to your discretion whether of those two ways your lordship will take with him, and the man being so resolute to reveal no more matter, it is thought best to have no further tortures used against him, but that you proceed forthwith to his execution in manner aforesaid. Ag for her Majesty's good acceptation of your careful travail in this matter of Hurley, you need nothing to doubt, and for your better assurance thereof she has commanded me to let your lordship understand that, as well as in all others the like as in the case of Hurley, she cannot but greatly allow and commend your doings.”
Well, they put his feet into tin boots filled with oil and then placed him standing in the fire. Eventually they cut off his head, tore out his bowels, and cut the limbs from his body. Gentlemen, 'twas all “ according to law;" and to demonstrate sympathy for him and “ disesteem” of that law was “sedition.” But do you wonder greatly that law of that complexion failed to secure popular sympathy and respect?
One more illustration, gentlemen; taken from a period somewhat later on. It is the execution-“ according to law,” gentlemen, entirely “ according to law”-of another popish bishop named O'Devany. The account is that of a Crown official of the time--some most worthy predecessor of the Solicitor-General. I read it from the recently published work of the Rev. C. P. Meehan:
On the twenty-eighth of January the bishop and priest, being arraigned at the king's bench, were each condemned of treason and adjudged to be executed the Saturday following; which day being come, a priest or two of the Pope's brood, with holy water and other holy stuffs
no sneer was that at all, gentlemen; no sneer at Catholic practices, for a Crown official never sneers at Catholic practices
were sent to sanctify the gallows whereon they were to die. About two o'clock P.M. the traitors were delivered to the sheriffs of Dublin, who placed them in a small car, which was followed by a great multitude. As the car progressed the spectators knelt down; but the bishop, sitting still like a block, would not vouchsafe them a word or turn his head aside. The multitude, however, following the car, made such a dole and lamentation after him as the heavens themselves resounded the echoes of their outcries.
Actually, a seditious funeral procession-made up of the
ancestors of those thirty thousand men, women, and children who, according to the Solicitor-General, glorified the cause of murder on the eighth of last December.
“Being come to the gallows, whither they were followed by troops of the citizens, men and women of all classes, most of the best being present, the latter kept up such a shrieking, such a howling, and such a hallooing, as, if St. Patrick himself had been gone to the gallows, could not have made greater signs of grief; but when they saw him turned from off the gallows, the raised the whobub with such a main cry as if the rebel had come to rifle the city. Being ready to mount the ladder, when he was pressed by some of the bystanders to speak, he repeated frequently, Sine me quæso. The executioner had no sooner taken off the bishop's head than the townsmen of Dublin began to flock about him, some taking up the head with pitying aspect, accompanied with sobs and sighs; some kissed it with as religious an appetite as ever they kissed the Pax; some cut away all the hair from the head, which they preserved for a relic; some others were practisers to steal the head away, but the executioner gave notice to the sheriffs. Now, when he began to quarter the body, the women thronged about him, and happy was she that could get but her handkerchief dipped in the blood of the traitor; and, the body being once dissevered in four quarters, they neither left finger nor toe, but they cut them off and carried them away; and some others that could get no holy monuments that appertained to his person, with their knives they shaved off chips from the hallowed gallows; neither could they omit the halter wherewith he was hanged, but it was rescued for holy uses. The same night after the execution a great crowd flocked about the gallows and there spent the fore part of the night in heathenish howling and performing many popish ceremonies; and after midnight, being then Candlemas Day, in the morning having their priests present in readiness, they had Mass after Mass till, daylight being come, they departed to their own houses."
There was “sympathy with sedition" for you, gentlemen. No wonder the Crown official who tells the story-some wor
thy predecessor of Mr. Harrison-should be horrified at such a demonstration. I will sadden you with no further illustrations of Euglish law, but I think it will be admitted that after centuries of such law one need not wonder if the people hold it in “ hatred and contempt.”
With the opening of the seventeenth century, however, came a golden and glorious opportunity for ending that melancholy—that terrible state of things. In the reign of
James I, English law for the first time extended to every corner of this kingdom. The Irish came into the new order of things frankly and in good faith; and if wise counsels prevailed then amongst our rulers, oh, what a blessed ending there might have been to the bloody feud of centuries. The Irish submitted to the Gaelic king to whom had come the English crown. In their eyes he was of a friendly, nay, of a kindred race. He was of a line of Gaelic kings that had often befriended Ireland. Submitting to him was not yielding to the brutal Tudor.
Yes, that was the hour, the blessed opportunity for laying the foundation of a real union between the three kingdoms; a union of equal national rights under the one crown. This was what the Irish expected; and in this sense they in that hour accepted the new dynasty. And it is remarkable that from that day to this, though England has seen bloody revolutions and violent changes of rulers, Ireland has ever held faithfully too faithfully—to the sovereignty thus adopted. But how were they received? How were their expectations met? By persecution, proscription, and wholesale plunder, even by that miserable Stuart. His son came to the throne. Disaffection broke out in England and Scotland. ... How did the Irish meanwhile act? They stood true to their allegiance. They took the field for the king.
What was the result? They were given over to slaughter and plunder by the brutal soldiery of the English Fenians. Their nobles and gentry were beggared and proscribed; their children were sold as white slaves to West Indian planters; and their gallant struggles for the king, their sympathy for the royalist cause, was actually denounced by the English Fenians as "sedition,” “rebellion," "lawlessness," sympathy with crime."
Ah, gentlemen, the evils thus planted in our midst will survive and work their influence; yet some men wonder that English law is held in “ disesteem” in Ireland. Time went on, gentlemen; time went on. Another James sat on the throne; and again English Protestant Fenianism conspired for the overthrow of their sovereign. King James came here and opened his Irish Parliament in person. Oh, who will say
in that brief hour at least the Irish nation was not reconciled to the throne and laws? King, Parliament, and people were blended in one element of enthusiasm, joy, and hope, the first time for ages Ireland had known such a joy. Yes
“We, too, had our day-it was brief, it is ended
When a king dwelt among us-no strange king-but ours.
And shook the green banner that hung on yon towers.
We read the gold legend that blazoned it o'er-
Oh, God! have we seen it to see it no more!"
Once more the Irish people bled and sacrificed for their loyalty to the throne and laws. Once more confiscation devastated the land, and the blood of the loyal and true was poured like rain. The English Fenians and the foreign emissaries triumphed, aided by the brave Protestant rebels of Ulster. King William came to the throne-a prince