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The following is the paper alluded to as found in the writing
box of John Sheares.
“ IRISHMEN! Your country is free, and you are about to be avenged. That vile government, which has so long and so cruelly oppressed you, is no more! Some of its most atrocious monsters have already paid the forfeit of their lives, and the rest are in our hands. The national flag—the sacred GREEN, is at this moment flying over the ruins of despotism, and that capital, which a few hours past had witnessed the debauchery, the plots and crimes of your tyrants, is now the citadel of triumphant Patriotism and Virtue! Arise, then, United Sons of Ireland, arise like a great and powerful nation, determined to live free or die. Arm yourselves by every means in your power, and rush like lions on your foes. Consider that for every enemy you disarm, you arm a friend, and thus become doubly powerful. In the cause of liberty inaction is cowardice, and the coward shall forfeit the property he has not the courage to protect. Let his arms be secured and transferred to those gallant spirits who want and will use them. Yes, Irishmen, we swear by that Eternal Justice in whose cause you fight, that the brave patriot who survives the present glorious struggle, and the family of him who has fallen, or shall hereafter fall in it, shall re. ceive from the hands of a grateful nation an ample recompense out of that property which the crimes of our enemies have forfeited into its hands, and his name shall be inscribed on the national record of Irish revolution, as a glorious example to all posterity; but we likewise swear to punish robbers with death and infamy. We also swear never to sheath the sword till every being in the country is restored to those equal rights which the God of Nature has given to all men, until an order of things shall be established in which no su. periority shall be acknowledged among the citizens of Erin, but that of virtue and talent.
“ Rouse all the energies of your souls, call forth all the merit and abilities which a vitious government consigned to obscurity, and under the conduct of your leaders march with a steady step to victory. Heed not the glare of a hired soldiery or aristocratic yeomanry; they cannot stand the vigorous shock of freemen; their trappings and their arms will soon be yours; and the detested government of England, to which we vow eternal hatred, shall learn that the treasures it exhausts on its accoutred slaves for the purpose of butchering Irishmen, shall but further enable us to turn their swords on its devoted head.
Many of the military feel the love of liberty glow within their breasts, and have already joined the National Standard. Receive with open arms such as shall follow so gloriou's an example; they can render signal service to the cause of freedom, and shall be rewarded according to their deserts. But for the wretch who turns his sword against his native country, let the national vengeance be visited on him -let him find no quarter.
“ Two other crimes demand
« Attack them in every direction by day and by night. Avail yourselves of the natural advantages of your country, which are innumerable, and with which you are better acquainted than they. Where you cannot oppose them in full force, constantly harass their rear and flanks, cut off their provision's and magazines, and prevent them as much as possible from uniting their forces. Let whatever moment you cannot devote to fighting for your country be passed in learning to fight for it, or preparing the means of war, for war, war alone, must occupy every mind and every hand till its long oppressed soil be purged of all its enemies.
“ Vengeance, Irishmen! Vengeance on your oppressors ! Remember what thousands of your dearest friends have perished by their merciless orders. Remember their burnings, their rackings, their torturings, their military massacre and their legal murders. Remember ORR!"
SOME ACCOUNT OF THE FAMILY OF THE SHEARES.
Henry and John Sheares were descended from a respectable family in the county of Cork, and related, by marriage, to the Earl of Shannon. Their father was a M. P. and had a pension of 2001. from government. His sons, Henry and John, received a liberal education ; the father intended them both for the bar, but the eldest took a liking to the army, in which he served some time as a lieutenant. At the peace of 1783, he left the army, and entered himself as a student in the temple, and then followed, like his brother, the profession of the law. Their talents were respectable. Henry had a considerable portion of knowledge, but he was not so successful in bringing it forward as John, who, as a younger brother, may perhaps have exerted himself with greater diligence. From their infancy, they were much attached to each other, had similar sentiments, and lived in the same house. Unfortunately their politics acquired a republican cast, and their conversation and occasional publications, unsuited to the times, and the powers that be," displayed too openly their opinions.
With minds thus prepared, the French revolution of course excited their warmest approbation. It is said that they actually went to Paris in 1792, became acquainted with Brissot, and were initiated into all the mystery of clubism, fraternization, &c.* With these principles, they returned to Ireland, and, in an evil hour, joined the United Men. Government soon obtained information of their unguarded proceedings—they became the dupes of a governmental spy and informer; themselves and their papers were seized; they became the victims of the law, and suffered the pains and penalties of rebellion.
* What infinite mischiefs have arisen from the French revolution! Its evils are incalculable, whether we consider the many good men who perished in their endeavours to establish a system of rational liberty in Europe, or, that the cause of liberty itself has received almost a mortal wound in every part of the world. VOL. I.
When Lord Carleton was passing sentence on these unfortunate gentlemen, he was so much affected that he could scarcely proceed. He had been the townsman and friend of their father, and lived with him in habits of intimacy. He owed to Mr. Sheares, perhaps, some of his best principles of thinking and acting; and the recollection of such scenes, and the melancholy duty he was then performing, to a mind even less feeling, must have been a painful task indeed ! What must have been his lordship's feelings, when in the act of condemning the sons of his early friend and benefactor to an ignominious death!
ON THE LAW OF HIGH TREASON, see p. 319.
FOR the information of the general reader, it seems necessary to draw together some of the authorities and opinions of the most learned sages of the law, concerning this so frequently contested point in the Irish courts of judicature, i. e. the number of witnesses ' necessary by the common law to conviction for high treason. It is proper, however, to premise, that the history of the English government evinces that the proceedings in cases of high treason have ever been more or less arbitrary, in proportion as the prosecuting power has been more or less strong, or deaf, to the sentiments of justice and humanity.
In England, an act of parliament was passed i Edw. VI. requiring two lawful accusers (which was interpreted to mean two lawful witnesses) in all cases of treason-and in 1 Philip and Mary, another act was passed, declaring “ that all trials of treasons shall be according to the course of the common law.” These two conflicting statutes gave rise to various doubts and uncertainties in that country, which were at length finally put to rest by the stat. 7 William III. which positively and distinctly required two witnesses. As, however, none of those statutes extended to Ireland, and as the Irish parliament passed no law upon the subject, the number of witnesses necessary to a conviction for high treason remains to be decided by the ancient common law of England, which was introduced into Ireland as it stood prior to the reign of Henry VII.
Mr. Justice Foster, in his Discourse on High Treason, says, that “it hath been generally agreed, and I think upon just ! grounds, (though Lord Coke hath advanced a contrary
doctrine,) that at common law one witness was sufficient in the case of treason, as well as in every other capital case. Fost. C. L. 233.
Serjeant Hawkins, in his Pleas of the Crown, c. 25. s. 129. expresses himself thus : " It seems, that before the 1 Edw. VI. no certain number of witnesses was required upon the indictment or trial of any crime whatsoever; for it seems to be generally agreed, that the statute of P. and M. in restoring the order of trial by the common law, took away the necessity of two witnesses in all cases within those statutes, from whence it plainly seems to follow that they were not required by the common law.” After noticing that a contrary opinion has been held by some, he proceeds thus: “ However the law might have stood in relation to these matters before the Conquest, it seems to have been wholly altered long before the statute of Edw. VI. and I rather incline to this opinion, since I find it so little supported by the generality of the authorities cited by Sir Edward Coke for the proof of the contrary."
Here it is worthy of remark, that the passage in Foster seems to be a mere obiter dictum of the author, in support of which not a single argument is advanced, nor authority cited; and Hawkins has evidently grounded his opinion upon the strong inference to be drawn from the statutes, and the slight manner in which Coke was supported in a contrary opinion by the generality of the authorities he had cited, but he does not pretend that any of them contradict what his lordship has advanced.
Now let us hear Lord Coke, and observe how far he is supported by reason, and the opinions of other great men:« And it seemeth (saith his lordship) that by the ancient common law, one accuser, or witness, was not sufficient to convict any person of high treason; for in that case where there is but one accuser, it shall be tried before the constable and marshal by combat, as by many records appeareth. But the constable and marshal have no jurisdiction to hold plea of any thing which may be determined or discussed by the common law: And that two witnesses be required, appeareth by our books, and I remember no authority in them to the contrary; and the common law herein is grounded upon the law of God, expressed both in the old and the new testament: “ At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.”. Deut. 17. 6. Matt. 18. 16. John, 18. 23. 2 Cor. 13. 1. Heb. 10. 28.
Sir Thomas Raymond's report of Lord Stafford's-case (408.) contains the following paragraph: “And upon this occasion, my lord chancellor, in the lords' house, was pleased to com