Page images

cannibal informer, this demon, O'Brien, greedy after human gore, has fifteen other victims in reserve, if, from your verdict, he receives the unhappy man at the bar! Fifteen more


fellow.citizens are to be tried on his evidence! Be you then their saviours; let your verdict snatch them from his ravening maw, and interpose between yourselves and endless remorse!

I know, gentlemen, I would but insult you, if I were to apologize for detaining you thus long; if I have an apology to make to any person, it is to my client, for thus delaying his acquittal. Sweet is the recollection of having done justice in that hour when the hand of death presses on the human heart. Sweet is the hope which it gives birth to! From you I demand that justice for my client, your innocent and unfortunate fellow-subject at the bar, and may you have for it a more lasting reward than the perishable crown we read of which the ancients placed on the brow of him who saved in battle the life of a fellow-citizen.

If f you should ever be assailed by the hand of the informer, may you find an all-powerful refuge in the example which you shall set this day; earnestly do I pray that you may never experience what it is to count the tedious hours in cap. tivity, pining in the damps and gloom of the dungeon, while the wicked one is going about at large, “ seeking whom he may devour." There is another than a human tribunal, where the best of us will have occasion to look back' on the little good we have done. In that awful trial, O! may your verdict this day assure your hopes, and give you strength and consolation in the presence of an ADJUDGING Gov.

Mr. Solicitor-General followed Mr. Curran, but as he dwelt chiefly on the points and explanations of law, already so often repeated, we deem it unnecessary to lay them before our readers again.

The Hon. Judge Chamberlaine, charging the jury, spoke in substance as follows:

Gentlemen of the jury, the charge against the prisoner has been truly stated, to be of a nature the most atrociuus, inasmuch as an attempt to overturn the government of a country, by disturbing the peace and security of society, endangers the life and liberties of every individual; but it has also been truly said, that in proportion to the atrocity of a crime, should be the evidence brought forward to establish it. Two species of high treason have been laid in the indictment ; on these I do not think it necessary to observe at length; the counsel on both sides seem well agreed on the subject; these two are, compassing the king's death, and adhering to his enemies. Every man of plain sense must know what is meant by the latter. [Here his lordship instanced, as explanatory, the cases of Lord Preston, Doctor Hensil, and the Rev. Mr. Jackson.] The completion of the design is not necessary to constitute the guilt. If we were to wait for the event in such a case, it would be idle to talk of punishment.

The only count in the indictment for you to consider, is, the adhering to the king's enemics. In support of the others, Mr. Baron Smith is of opinion with me, there has no proof whatsoever been advanced. The witness O'Brien swears to several facts going to prove adherence to the king's enemies; but before I state a particle of his evidence, I must give you this caution, that, if you believe he has wilfully and deliberately committed perjury on this trial, you are to reject every part of his testimony; if you are of opinion that you would find him guilty, if indicted before you for perjury, you must reject him altogether-for, atrocious as the crime of high treason is, it is better twenty traitors should escape, than one innocent man be deprived of his life.

His lordship concluded his observations thus" It is a dangerous experiment, and which I never will countenance, to admit the evidence of a witness who, on trial, commits wilful perjury. There is, it is true, some corroborating testimony against the prisoner; but to make him a traitor, and fix on him a design of aiding and abetting the king's enemies, I see no evidence whatever; and I trust in God, that perjury will not find a suffrage in your verdict, or in the laws of this country.”

After an absence of about ten minutes, the jury returned a verdict-Not Guilty.

On Thursday, the 18th, Mr. Finney was again arraigned on an indictment for administering unlawful oaths, and, for want of prosecution, acquitted.

Counsel for the crown :--The Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General, Mr. Prime Serjeant, Messrs. Ridgeway and Townsend ; Agent, Mr. Kemis.

COUNSEL for the prisoner :-Messrs. Curran, M'Nally, Emmet, and Sampson; Agent, Mr. Dowling:

[ocr errors]



[merged small][ocr errors]

ON the 21st of May, 1798, Henry Sheares and John Sheares, Esqrs. were arrested and committed to gaol on a charge of high treason-and, on the 26th of June, at a court held at the sessions-house for the city and county of Dublin, by virtue of a special commission of oyer and terminer, composed of Lord Carleton, Hon. Alexander Crookshank, Hon. Michael Smith, Hon. Denis George, and the Hon. Robert Day, the grand jury found an indictinent for high treason against the two Sheares, of which the following is an abstract:

First Count. That the said Henry Sheares and John Sheares, not regarding the duty of their allegiance, falsely, wickedly, and traitorously, did compass, imagine, and intend the king, their supreme and lawful lord, off and from his royal state, crown, title, and government of this his kingdom of Ireland, to depose and deprive, and the said lord the king to kill, to, put to death, and murder. To which were added sixteen overt acts.

Second Count. That the said Henry and John Sheares, with intent to subvert the government and constitution, unlawfully and traitorously were adhering to, and aiding and comforting the persons exercising the powers of government in France, and the men of France, under the government of the said persons, then being enemies of the king.

The same overt acts were set forth in support of the second count, with an additional one, to wit, the 7th, that they became members of a society of United Irishmen, for the purpose of aiding and assisting the French.


Henry Sheares and John Sheares were brought to the bar, and arraigned upon the indictment that had been found against them.

Mr. M'Nally begged their lordships to indulge the prisoners with some little time, as their, counsel had not all come into court; and expressed a wish to advise with his colleagues on an important objection to the indictment, which went to show that the whole proceedings were coram non judice.

After a delay of half an hour, the prisoners' counsel not appearing, the court said the cause must go on.

Mr. M‘Nally then rose and moved to quash the indictment, on the ground that one of the grand jury was not le. gally qualified to serve, that he was an alien, a Frenchman born; he stated that the fact had but lately come to his knowledge, that the grand panel having been called over in the absence of the prisoners, and at a time when they had no counsel assigned them, they had it not in their power to take advantage of it at an early stage of the proceedings. “I am at a loss," said he, “ to know how the fact is to be inquired into, whether by collateral issue or otherwise. I am not ashamed to own my ignorance in this respect-perhaps it may come in the shape of a plea, to which the counsel for the crown may deniur."

The court overruled the motion; and said, that if the counsel had any plea they must put it in.

Their lordships waited some time for the plea to be

« PreviousContinue »