Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

there, but their persons not known, Mason caused some Frenchmen to pass for them, who thereupon were sent to Ireland, where the stratagem was discovered too late. Mason has some fortune.

From the Hague he went to Coblentz, from thence to London, by Embden ; there he lodged, first, in Marlborough-street, then in Kentish town, and last, in Crown-street, Westminister, associating with several disaffected persons, particularly

With the last he was at Cheltenham last summer (1802); was a relation of Robert Emmet, and his class-fellow in College ; is cautious and timid.

MR. MASON'S PETITION, PRESENTED BY MR. SHERIDAN, 26th

JUNE, 1811.

The Petition of St. John Mason, Esq., as presented to the

House of Commons, May 17, 1811, by the Right Hon.
R. B. Sheridan.

To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdoms

of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled,

“THE HUMBLE PETITION OF St. John Mason, "Most respectfully sheweth,

“That your Petitioner was admitted a member of the Irish Bar, in Trinity Term, 1803.

" That, in August thereof, your Petitioner was, when on circuit, arrested at the distance of seventy miles from Dublin, to which he was directly conveyed, and committed to the prison of Kilmainham, where your Petitioner was detained in close and rigid custody, for more than two years. That the instrument, by virtue of which your

Petitioner had been so committed, was a State-warrant, signed by Mr. Wickham, then Chief Secretary for Ireland, under the Earl of Hardwicke's Administration, and by his Excellency's command, containing a sweeping and general charge of treason ; and that said warrant did not specify that said charge was founded on any information given upon oath.

“ That your Petitioner and his friends have applied to the Irish government, in every shape, both personally and other

wise, respecting its oppressive treatment of your Petitioner ; soliciting Examination, and claiming to be informed of the cause of your Petitioner's having been so deprived of his liberty for more than two years ; but, that all such applications have been wholly unavailing, in consequence, as your Petitioner doth firmly, but most respectfully, assert to this honourable House, of the absolute inability of that government to state, with truth, any just cause whatsoever for such rigorous and unjust imprisonment of your Petitioner.

That, as it impossible for your Petitioner to prove the negative of an undefined and unspecified charge, your Petitioner can, in general terms only, most solemnly declare his innocence ;—to establish which, your Petitioner had, also, during his imprisonment, when he was at the mercy of vile and corrupt informers, repeatedly, but in vain, demanded from the said government of Ireland, that Right which the Constitution gives to every subject of the land, against whom accusation has been laid, namely, a Trial by the Laws of his country!

“That the infringement and suppression of justice, which had been exercised in the case of your Petitioner, not coming within the scope or cognizance of any legal tribunal, your Petitioner begs leave, with the most becoming respect, to approach this honourable House for Constitutional redress; and, as an injured subject of this realm, in whose person the general rights of the community have been violated, humbly appeal against such violation and suppression of justice ;-and, fortified as well by the rectitude of his conduct, as by a firm confidence in the protecting justice of this honourable House, your Petitioner begs permission to present his complaint against that Officer of the State, under whose government such violation had been committed ; and whom your Petitioner, however elevated might have been the trust and station to which that Officer had been exalted, cannot constitutionally consider as divested of responsibility for the acts of that trust, as exercised during his administration in Ireland ;-which said complaint your Petitioner most humbly begs to present to this honourable House, as his duty, in the last resort, to society and to himself, challenging all inquiry, and defying all imputation on his prohity and honour.

“ That your Petitioner doth, therefore, distinctly and directly CHARGE the government of the Earl of Hardwicke, when

that noble Earl was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with INJUSTICE and OPPRESSION, by having, in the person of your Petitioner, abused, to the injury and destruction of the subject, the discretionary powers of that trust, which had been granted for his protection ; and further, that the said Earl of Hardwicke has since continued to deny to your Petitioner that humble measure of justice, an acknowledgment of his innocence, of which your Petitioner cannot but think his Lordship is now convinced. And your Petitioner now humbly prays that this honourable House, which your Petitioner looks up to, as the Grand Depositary and Guardian of the Public Rights, according to the structure of the Constitution, will be graciously pleased to grant to your Petitioner, who is now in humble attendance, awaiting the pleasure of this honourable House, such means and opportunities of substantiating his said allegations, as may, in its wisdom, appear best calculated for the attainment of such his object, and for the accomplishment of justice ; —your Petitioner so praying, not only for the purpose of vindicating his character, but also under the protection of this honourable House, of guarding, by his humble efforts, the rights of the subject against similar infractions ; which rights have been so unconstitutionally violated in the person of the individual, your humble Petitioner. “And your Petitioner shall, &c., &c.

" St. John Mason."

CHAPTER XIV.

On Monday, September 19, 1803, at the special commission before Lord Norbury, Mr. Baron George, and Mr. Baron Daly, Robert Emmet was put on his trial, on a charge of high treason, under 25 Edward III. The counsel assigned him were Messrs. Ball, Burrowes, and M‘Nally.

The Attorney-general, Mr. Standish O'Grady, opened the indictment. In the learned gentleman's address to the jury, the establishment of the prisoner's guilt seemed not to be a matter of more importance than the defence of the government

from the appearance of surprisal, or the suspicion of having suffered a conspiracy, “ serious in its unsounded depth and unknown extent,” to have assumed a more formidable shape than a double policy and a feeble executive were calculated to deal with. In fact, in the speeches of the Attorney-general, the Solicitor-general, and the King's Counsel, Mr. Plunket, the hearers were perpetually, though, of course, unintentionally, reminded of the squabble between the Governor and the General.

The Attorney-general, in the course of his able address, said :-“ Perhaps at former periods some allowance might be made for the heated imaginations of enthusiasts ; perhaps an extravagant love of liberty might for a moment supersede a rational understanding, and might be induced, for want of sufficient experience or capacity, to look for that liberty in revolution. But it is not the road to liberty. It throws the mass of the people into agitation, only to bring the worst and most profligate to the surface. It originates in anarchy, proceeds in bloodshed, and ends in cruel and unrelenting despotism.... Gentlemen, I do not wish to undertake to speak in the prophetic. But when I consider the vigilance and firmness of his Majesty's Government, the spirit and discipline of his Majesty's troops, and that armed valour and loyalty which, from one end of the country to the other, has raised itself for the purpose of crushing domestic treason, and, if necessary, of meeting and repelling a foreign foe, I do not think it unreasonable to indulge a sanguine hope that the continuance of the same conduct upon the part of government, and of the same exertions

upon

the part of the people, will long preserve the nation free, happy, and independent. ...Gentlemen, upon former occasions, persons were brought to the bar of this court, implicated in the rebellion, in various, though inferior degrees. But if I am rightly instructed, we have now brought to the bar of justice, not a person who had been seduced by others, but a gentleman to whom the rebellion may be traced as the origin, the life, and soul of it. ... .I do sincerely lament with him (the prisoner), that some of those who have been hitherto brought to justice, were comparatively speaking, insignificant persons. They were not, I admit, prime movers of this treason ; but I trust the commission may not pass over without some distinguished examples.".

At the conclusion of a speech of considerable length, the jury were told to give the prisoner the full benefit of any defence he might make, and dispassionately consider the nature of his vindication.

EXAMINATION OF WITNESSES.

Joseph Rawlins, Esq., being sworn, deposed to a know. ledge of the prisoner, and recollected having been in his com pany some time in the month of December last, when he understood from him that he had been to see his brother at Brussels. On his cross-examination, the witness said, that in conversations with him on the subject of continental politics, the prisoner avowed that the inhabitants of the Austrian Netherlands execrated Buonaparte's government ; and, from the whole of the prisoner's conversation, the witness had reason to believe that he highly condemned Buonaparte's conduct and government.

"Mr. George Tyrrel, an attorney, proved the execution, in the month of June last, of the lease of a house in Butterfieldlane, Rathfarnham, from Michael Frayne to the prisoner, who assumed on the occasion the name of Ellis. Mr. Tyrrel was one of the subscribing witnesses to the lease, and a person named William Dowdall was the other.

"Michael Frayne, who leased the above-mentioned house to the prisoner, proved also to that fact, and that he gave him possession of it on the 23rd of April preceding, that the prisoner and Dowdall lived in the most sequestered manner, and apparently anxious of concealment.

"John Fleming, a native of the County of Kildare, sworn: deposed that on the 23rd of July, and for the year previous thereto, he had been ostler at the White Bull Inn, Thomasstreet, kept by a person named Dillon. The house was convenient to Marshal-lane, where the rebel Depot was, and to which the witness had free and constant access—having been in the confidence of the conspirators, and employed to bring them ammunition and other things. He saw the persons there making pike-handles, and heading them with the iron part; he also saw the blunderbusses, firelocks, and pistols in the Depot: and saw ball-cartridges making there. Here the witness identified the prisoner at the bar, whom he saw in the Depot for the first time on the Tuesday morning after the ex

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »