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widely from the Crown version. Brett refused to give up the key of the van, which he held; and the attacking party commenced various endeavors to break it open. At length one of them called out to fire a pistol into the lock, and thus burst it open. The unfortunate Brett at that moment was looking through the keyhole, endeavoring to get a view of the inexplicable scene outside, when he received the bullet, and fell dead. Gentlemen, that may be the true or it may be the mistaken version. ...
But even suppose your view differs sincerely from mine, will you, can you, hold that I, thus conscientiously persuaded, sympathize with murder because I sympathize with men hanged for that which I contend was accident and not murder? That is exactly the issue in this case. Well, the rescued Fenian leaders got away; and then, when all was overwhen the danger was passed-valor tremendous returned to the fleet-of-foot Manchester police.
Oh, but they wreaked their vengeance that night on the houses of the poor Irish in Manchester! By a savage razzia they soon filled the jails with our poor countrymen, seized on suspicion. And then broke forth all over England that shout of anger and passion which none of us will ever forget. The national pride had been sorely wounded; the national power had been openly and humiliatingly defied; the national fury was aroused. On all sides resounded the hoarse shout for vengeance, swift and strong. Then was seen a sight, the most shameful of its kind that this century has exhibited-a sight at thought of which Englishmen will yet hang their heads for shame, and which the English historian will chronicle with reddened cheek—those poor and humble Irish youths led into the Manchester dock in chains! In chains! ..
For what were those chains put on untried prisoners? Gen
tlemen, it was at this point exactly that Irish sympathy came to the side of those prisoners. It was when we saw them thus used, and saw that, innocent or guilty, they would be immolated, -sacrificed to glut the passion of the hour,--that our feelingy rose high and strong in their behalf.
Even in England there were men—noble-hearted Englishmen, for England is never without such men--who saw that if tried in the midst of this national frenzy those victims would be sacrificed; and accordingly efforts were made for a postponement of the trial. But the roar of passion carried its way. Not even till the ordinary assizes would the trial be postponed. A Special Commission was sped to do the work while Manchester jurors were in a white heat of panic, indignation, and fury. Then came the trial, which was just what might be expected. Witnesses swore ahead without compunction, and jurors believed them without hesitation. Five men arraigned together as principals-Allen, Larkin, O'Brien, Shore, and Maguire—were found guilty, and, the judge concurring in the verdict, were sentenced to death. Five men—not three men, gentlemen-five men in the one verdict, not five separate verdicts. Five men by the same evidence and the same jury in the same verdict. Was that a just verdict? The case of the Crown here to-day is that it was—that it is “sedition” to impeach that verdict.
The very evening those men were sentenced, thirty newspaper reporters sent the Home Secretary a petition protesting that the evidence of the witnesses and the verdict of the jury notwithstanding—there was at least one innocent man thus marked for execution. The government felt that the reporters were right and the jurors wrong. They pardoned Maguire as an innocent man,--that same Maguire whose legal conviction is here put in as evidence that he and four others
were truly murderers, to sympathize with whom is to commit sedition—nay, “ to glorify the cause of murder.” . .
But now arose in redoubled fury the savage cry for blood. In vain good men, noble and humane men, in England tried to save the national honor by breasting this horrible outburst of passion. They were overborne.
Petitioners for mercy were mobbed and hooted in the streets. We saw all this we saw all this; and think you it did not sink into our hearts? Fancy if you can our feelings when we heard that yet another man out of five was respited-ah, he was an American, gentlemen-an American, not an Irishman-but that the three Irishmen, Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien, were to die—were to be put to death on a verdict and on evidence that would not hang a dog in England!
We refused to the last to credit it; and, thus incredulous, deemed it idle to make any effort to save their lives. But it was true; it was deadly true. And then, gentlemen, the doomed three appeared in a new character. Then they rose into the dignity and heroism of martyrs. The manner in which they bore themselves through the dreadful ordeal en nobled them forever. It was then we all learned to love and revere them as patriots and Christians.
Yes; in that hour they told us they were innocent, but were ready to die; and we believed them. We believe them still. Aye, do we! They did not go to meet their God with a falsehood on their lips. On that night before their execution, oh, what a scene! What a picture did England present at the foot of the Manchester scaffold! The brutal populace thronged thither in tens of thousands. They danced; they sang; they blasphemed; they chorused“ Rule Britannia,” and
God Save the Queen,” by way of taunt and defiance of the men whose death-agonies they had come to see!
Their shouts and brutal cries disturbed the doomed victims inside the prison, as in their cells they prepared in prayer and meditation to meet their Creator and their God.
Twice the police had to remove the crowd from around that wing of the prison, so that our poor brothers might in peace go through their last preparations for eternity, undisturbed by the yells of the multitude outside.
Oh, gentlemen, gentlemen—that scene! That scene in the gray cold morning, when those innocent men were led out to die-to die an ignominious death before that wolfish mob! With blood on fire-with bursting hearts—we read the dreadful story here in Ireland. We knew that these men would never have been thus sacrificed had not their offence been political, and had it not been that in their own way they represented the old struggle of the Irish race.
All this we felt, yet we were silent till we heard the press that had hounded those men to death falsely declaring that our silence was acquiescence in the deed that consigned them to murderers' graves. Of this I have personal knowledge, that, here in Dublin at least, nothing was done or intended until the “ Evening Mail” declared that popular feeling, which had ample time to declare itself, if it felt otherwise, quite recognized the justice of the execution. Then we resolved to make answer. Then Ireland made
For what monarch, the loftiest in the world, would such demonstrations be made, the voluntary offerings of a people's grief! Think you it was “sympathy for murder” called us forth, or caused the priests of the Catholic Church to drape their churches? It is a libel to utter the base charge.
No, no! With the acts of those men at that rescue we had nought to say. Of their innocence of murder we were convinced. Their patriotic feelings, their religious devotion, we
Baw proved in the noble, the edifying manner of their death. We believed them to have been unjustly sacrificed in a mom ment of national passion; and we resolved to rescue their memory from the foul stains of their maligners and make it a proud one forever with Irishmen.
Sympathy with murder, indeed! What I am about to say will be believed; for I think I have shown no fear of consequences in standing by my acts and principles I say for myself, and for the priests and people of Ireland, who are affected by this case, that sooner would we burn our right hands to cinders than to express, directly or indirectly, sympathy with murder; and that our sympathy for Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien is based upon the conviction that they were innocent of any such crime.
Now, gentlemen, judge ye me on this whole case; for I have done. I have spoken at great length, but I plead not merely my own cause, but the cause of my country. For myself, I care little. I stand before you here with the manacles, I might say, on my hands. Already a prison cell awaits me in Kilmainham. My doom, in any event, is sealed. Already a conviction has been obtained against me for my opinions. .
Sedition, in a rightly ordered community, is indeed a crime. But who is it that challenges me? Who is it that demands my loyalty? Who is it that calls out to me, “ Oh, ingrate son, where is the filial affection, the respect, the obedience, the support, that is my due? Unnatural, seditious, and rebellious child, a dungeon shall punish your crime!”
I look in the face of my accuser, who thus holds me to the duty of a son. I turn to see if there I can recognize the features of that mother whom indeed I love, my own dear Ireland. I look into that accusing face, and there I see a