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point to mention, which I would rather state in the absence of the prisoners, (however singular,) lest, if I am not found
it should fill them with false hopes. I have compared this indictment with that in Stone's case, there it was stated that a war existed, as it does here; but there was an aver. ment which is not to be found in this indictment-" That a war had been carried on and prosecuted, to wit, at Hartford, in the county of Middlesex," laying a venue : that is not done here. There is a plain reason for it: The words of the statute are, if a man shall adhere to the king's enemies “ without the realm or elsewhere." Therefore, the indictment should state where the adherence was. I shall not trouble your lordships further. If I am wrong, I have to apologize, and have only to attribute my interference to the zeal which I feel for my clients.
Lord Carleton. You have been extremely proper in mentioning it in the absence of the prisoners, because they cannot avail themselves of the objection; for, if that whole count were bad, yet the other count would be sufficient to maintain the judgment.
The prisoners were then brought to the bar.
The clerk of the crown read the indictment, and asked them what they had to say, why judgment of death and execution should not be awarded against them, according to law ?
Mr. Henry Sheares. My lord, as I had no notion of dying such a death as I am about to meet, I ha only to ask your lordship for sufficient time to prepare myself and family for it. I have a wife and six children, and hope your humanity will allow me some reasonable time to settle my affairs, and make a provision for them. [Here he was so overwhelmed with tears, that he could not proceed.]
Mr. John Sheares. My lord, I wish to offer a few words, before the sentence is pronounced, because there is a weight pressing upon my heart, much greater than that of the tence which is to come from the court. There has been, my
lord, a weight pressing upon my mind, from the first moment I heard the indictment read upon which I was tried, but that weight has been more peculiarly and heavily pressing upon my heart, when I found the accusation in the indictment enforced and supported upon the trial ; and that weight would be insupportable, if it were not for this opportunity of discharging it: it would be insupportable since the verdict of my country has stamped that evidence as well founded. Do not think, my lords, that I am about to make a declamation against the verdict of the jury, or the persons concerned in the trial; I am only about to call to your recollection a part of the charge, which my soul shudders at; and if I had not this opportunity of denouncing it, before your lordships and this auditory, no courage would be sufficient to support ine. The accusation, my lords, to which I allude, is one of the blackest kind, and peculiarly painful, because it appears to have been founded upon my own act and deed, and to be given under my own hand: The accusation of which I speak, while I linger here yet a minute, is, “ that of holding out to the people of Ireland a direction to give no quarter to the troops fighting for its defence." My lords, let me say this and if there be any acquaintances in this crowded court-I will not say my intimate friends, but acquaintances-who do not know that what I say is truth, I should be reputed the wretch which I am not. I say,
any acquaintance of mine can believe that I could utter a recommendation of giving no quarter to a yielding and unof. fending foe, it is not the death that I am about to suffer which I deserve-no punishment could be adequate to such a crime. My lords, I cannot only acquit my soul of such an intention, but I declare, in the presence of that God before whom I must shortly appear, that the favourite doctrine of my heart was" That no human being should suffer death, but where absolute necessity required it."
My lords, I feel a consolation in making this declaration, which nothing else could afford me; because, it is not only
a justification of myself, but where I am sealing my life with that breath which cannot be suspected of falsehood, what I say may make some impression on the minds of men not holding the same doctrine. I declare to God, I know no crime but assassination which can eclipse or equal that of which I am accused. I discern no shade of guilt between that and taking away the life of a foe, by putting a bayonet to his breast when he is yielding and surrendering. I do request the bench to believe that of me.
I do request my country to believe that of me sure God will think that of me.
Now, my lords, I have no favour to ask of the court-my country has decided I am guilty, and the law says that I shall suffer--it sees that I am ready to suffer.
But, my lords, I have a favour to request of the court that does not relate to myself. My lords, I have a brother, whom I have ever loved dearer than myself; but, it is not from affection for him alone that I am induced to make this re. quest. He is a man, and therefore, I hope, prepared to die, if he stood as I do, though I do not stand unconnected, but he stands more dearly connected. In short, my lords, to spare your feelings and my own, I do not pray that I should not die; but that the husband, the father, the brother, and the son, all comprised in one person, holding these relations dearer in life to him than any other man I know; for such a man, I do not pray a pardon, for that is not in the power of the court; but I pray for a respite for such time as the court, in its humanity and its discretion, shall think proper.
- You have heard, my lords, that his private affairs require arrangement. I have a further room for asking it:—if immediately both of us be taken off, an aged and revered mother, a dear sister, and the most affectionate wife that ever lived, and six children, will be left without protection or provision of any kind. When I address myself to your lordships, it is with the knowledge you have of all the sons of our aged mother being gone. Two have perished in the service of the king; one very recently. I only request that, disposing of me with what swiftness, either the public mind or justice 'requires, a respite may be given to my brother, and that the family may acquire strength to bear it all. That is all I wish–I shall remember it to my last breath, and I will offer up my prayers for you to that Being who has endued us all with sensibility to feel. This is all I ask I have no- . thing more to say.
Lord Carleton then pronounced sentence of death on the prisoners; and these unfortunate brothers were executed on the 14th day of July, 1798, to the inexpressible sorrow of a great majority of the Irish nation.
COUNSEL for the crown :-Mr. Solicitor-General, Mr. Prime Serjeant, Messrs. Saurin, O'Grady, Mayne, Webber, and Ridgeway ; Agent, Mr. Kemis.
COUNSEL for the prisoners:-For Henry Sheares, Messrs. Curran and Plunket, assigned-For John Sheares, Messrs. Curran and M Nally, assigned; Messrs. Orr and Finlay, assistants ; Agent, Mr. Fitzgerald.
COPY OF A LETTER FROM MR. JOHN SHEARES TO HIS SIS
TER, DATED KILMAINHAM PRISON, 11th JULY, 1798.
" Wednesday Night.
“ The troublesome scene of life is nearly closed, and the hand that now traces these lines, in a short time will be no longer capable of communicating to a beloved family the sentiments of his heart.
“ It is now 11 o'clock, and I have only time to address my heloved Julia in a short, eternal farewell. Thou Sacred Power! whatever be thy name and nature, who has created us the frail and imperfect creatures that we are, hear the ardent prayer of one now on the eve of a most awful change. If thy Divine Providence can be affected by mortal supplication, hear and grant, I most humbly beseech thee, the last wishes of a heart that has ever adored thy greatness and thy goodness. Let peace and happiness once more visit the bosom of my beloved family-let a mild grief succeed the miseries they have endured; and when an affectionate tear is generously shed over the dust of him who caused their misfortunes, let all their ensuing days glide on in union and domestic harmony. Enlighten my beloved brother; to him and his invaluable wife, grant the undisturbed enjoyment of their mutual love ; and, as they advance, let their attachment increase-Let my Julia, my feeling, my too feeling Julia, experience that consolation which she has often imparted to others let her soul repose at length in the consummation of all the wishes of her excellent heart-let her taste that happiness her virtues have so well merited. For my other sisters, provide those comforts their situation requires. To my mother, O, Eternal Power! what gift shall I wish for this matchless parent ?-Restore her to that peace which I have unfortunately torn from her let her forget me in the ceaseless affections of my sisters, and in their prosperity-let her taste that happiness which is best suited to her affectionate heart; and, when at length she is called home, let her find, in everlasting bliss, the due reward of a life of suffering virtue.