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Such are you,
the remaining divisions of the subject you are to consider. I admit, that, because a man merely takes this obligation of union, it cannot prevent his becoming a traitor, if he pleases; but the question for you to decide on, would then be, whether every man who takes it, must necessarily be a traitor ? Independent of that engagement, have any superadded facts been proved against the prisoner? What is the evidence of O'Brien ? What has he stated ? Here, gentlemen, let me claim the benefits of that great privilege which distinguishes trial by jury in this country from all the world.
Not twelve men just emerging from the dust and cobwebs of a study, abstracted from human nature, or only acquainted with its extravagances; but twelve men conversant with life, and practised in those feelings which mark the common and necessary intercourse between man and man. gentlemen. How, then, does Mr. O'Brien's tale hang together? Look to its commencement. He walks along Thomas-street, in the open day, (a street, not the least populous in this city,) and is accosted by a man, who, without any preface, tells him, he'll be murdered before he goes half the street, unless he becomes a United Irishman! Do you think this a probable story? Suppose any of you, gentlemen, be a United Irishman, or a free mason, or a friendly brother, and that you met me walking innocently along, just like Mr. O'Brien, and “ meaning no harm,” would you say, « Stop, Mr. Curran, don't go further, you'll be murdered before you go half the street, if you do not become a United, Irishman, a free mason, or a friendly brother.” Did you ever hear so coaxing an invitation to felony as this? « Sweet Mr. James O'Brien, come in and save your precious life, come in and take an oath, you'll be murdered, before you go half the street! Do, sweetest, dearest Mr. James O'Brien, come in, and do not risk your valuable existence.” What a loss had he been to his king, whom he loves so marvellously!
Well, what does poor Mr. O'Brien do? Poor, dear man! He stands petrified with the magnitude of his danger-all
his members refuse their office he can neither run from the danger, nor call out for assistance; his tongue cleaves to his mouth, and his feet incorporate with the paving stones
- it is in vain that his expressive eye silently implores pro-, tcction of the passenger; he yields at length, as greater men have done, and resignedly submits to his fate-he then enters the house, and being led into a room, a parcel of men make faces at him--but mark the metamorphosis-well may it be said that “ miracles will never cease"-he who feared to resist in open air, and in the face of the public, becomes a bravo when pent up in a room, and environed by sixteen men, and one is obliged to bar the door, while another swears him, which, after some resistance, is accordingly cione, and poor Mr. O'Brien becomes a United Irishman, for no earthly purpose whatever but merely to save his sweet life! But this is not all, the pill so bitter to the percipiency of his loyal palate must be washed down, and lest he should throw it off his stomach, he is filled up to the neck with beef and whiskey! What further did they do ? Mr. O'Brien, thus persecuted, abused and terrified, would have gone and lodged his sorrows in the sympathetic bosom of the major, but to prevent him even this little solace, they made him drunk the next evening they used him in the like barbal'ous manner, so that he was not only sworn against his will, but, poor man, he was made drunk against his inclination ! Thus was he besieged with united beef-steaks and whiskey, and against such potent assailants not even Mr. O'Brien could prevail !
Whether all this whiskey that he had been forced to drink has produced the effect or not, Mr. O'Brien's loyalty is better than his memory. In the spirit of loyalty he becomes prophetic, and told to Lord Portarlington the circumstances relative to the intended attack on the urdnance stores full three weeks before he had obtained the information through moral agency.
O! honest James O'Brien !-honest James O'Brien! Let others vainly argue on logical truth and ethi
cal falsehood, but if I can once fasten him to the ring of perjury, I will bait him at it until his testimony shall fail of producing a verdict, although human nature were as vile and monstrous in you as she is in him! He has made a mistake! But surely no man's life is safe if such evidence were admissible. What argument can be founded on his testimony, when he swears he has perjured himself, and that any thing he says must be false? I must not believe him at all, and by a paradoxical conclusion, suppose, against “the deep damnation" of his own testimony, that he is an honest man!
Another of the prisoner's counsel having here suggested something to Mr. Curran, he continued. My learned friend supposed me to be mistaken, and confounding the evidence of O'Brien and Clarke, but I am not; I advert to what O'Brien said to Lord Portarlington, respecting the attack on the arsenal Strongly as I feel my interests keep pace with those of my client, I would not defend him at the expense of truth; I seek not to make O'Brien worse than he is; whatever he may be, God Almighty convert his mind! May his reprobation-but, I beg his pardon, let your verdict stamp a due currency on his credit; that will have more force than any casual remarks of mine. How this contradiction in Mr. O'Brien's evidence occurred, I am at no loss to understand. He started with an intention of informing against some person, no matter whom, and whether he ever saw the prisoner at the time he gave the information to Lord Portarlington, is a question; but nonc, that he fabricated the story for the purpose of imposing on the honest zeal of the law officers of the crown.
Having now glanced at a part of this man's evidence, I do not mean to part with him entirely. I shall have occasion to visit him again, but before I do, let me, gentlemen, impress upon your minds the observation which my colleague appli. ed to the laws of high treason, that if they are not explain ed on the statute books, they are explained on the hearts of all honest men; and, as St. Paul says, though they know not the law, they obey the statutes thereof." The essence of the charge submitted to your consideration, tends to the dissolution of the connection between Ireland and Great Britain.
1 I own, it is with much warmth and self-gratulation, that I feel this calumny answered by the attachment of every good man to the British constitution. I feel, I embrace its principles; and when I look on you, the proudest benefit of that constitution, I am relieved from the fears of advocacy, since I place my client under its sacred shade. This is not the idle sycophancy of words. It is not crying "Lord ! Lord ! but doing the will of my Father who is in heaven.” If my client were to be tried by a jury of Ludgate-hill şhop-keepers, he would, ere now, be in his own house. The law of England would not suffer a man to be cruelly butchered in a court of justice. The law of England recognises - the possibility of villains thirsting for the blood of their fellowcreatures; and the people of Ireland have no cause to be incredulous of the fact. Thus it is, that in England two witnesses are essential to the proof of high treason ; and the poorest wretch that crawls on British ground has this protection between him and those vampyres who crawl out of their graves in search of human blood. If there be but one witness, there is the less possibility of detecting him-he the less fears any detection of his murderous tale, having only infernal communication between him and the author of all evil; and, when on the table, which he makes the altar of his sacrifice, however common men may be affected at the sight of the innocent victim, it cannot be supposed that the prompter of his perjury will instigate him to retribution. This is the law in England, and God forbid that Irishmen should so differ, in the estimation of the law, from Englishmen, that their blood is not equally worth preserving..
I do not, gentlemen, apply any part of this observation to you; you are Irishmen yourselves, and I know you will act
proudly and honestly. Why the law of England renders two witnesses necessary, and one witness insufficient, to take away the life of a man on a charge of high treason, is founded on the principles of common sense, and common justice; for, unless the subject were guarded by this wise prevention, every wretch who could so pervert the powers of invention, as to trump up a tale of treason and conspiracy, would have it in his power to defraud the crown into the most abominable and afflicting acts of cruelty and oppression.
Gentlemen of the jury, though from the evidence which has been adduced against the prisoner, they have lost their value, yet, had they been necessary, I must tell you that my client came forward under a disadvantage of great magnitude, the absence of two witnesses, very material to his defence. I am not now at liberty to say, what, I am in.structed, would have been proved by May and Roberts. Why is not Mr. Roberts here? Recollect the admission of O'Brien, that he threatened to settle him, and you will cease to wonder at his absence, when, if he came, the dagger was in preparation to be plunged into his heart. I said Mr. Roberts was absent; I correct myself. No! in effect he is here; I appeal to the heart of that obdurate man, what would have been his testimony, if he had dared to venture a personal evidence on this trial ? Gracious God! Is a tyranny like this to be borne with where law is said to exist! Shall the horrors which surround the informer, the ferocity of his countenance, and the terrors of his voice, cast such a wide and appalling influence, that none dare approach and save the victim which he marks for ignominy and death?
Now, gentlemen, be pleased to look at the rest of O'Brien's testimony; he tells you there are 111,000 men in one province, added to 10,000 of the inhabitants of the metropolis, ready to assist the object of an invasion. What! gentlemen, do you think there are so many in one province -so many in your city, combined against their country? At such a time as this do you think it a wise thing to say,