Sivut kuvina

omitted, which could be devised to irritate and inflame the populace; to the end that the Government might be compelled to act against them. Proceedings most vexatious and iniquitous were resorted to, by the advice and with the co-operation of “ The Lay Association," a confederacy formed for the purpose of goading the farmers by the most expensive forms of law. Auctions of stock, seized for tithe, took place, in districts where the peasantry were supposed to be most ungovernable; and the distress, being bought in by the plaintiffs, at a nominal price, was wantonly and insultingly destroyed, before the eyes of the multitude

The reverend Mr. Croker, of Limerick, at one of these sales, purchased the fat cattle of a respectable grazier, his parishioner, for a few shillings, had them slaughtered, and sent them--as an offering of charity-to the House of Industry; but the paupers would neither taste nor touch his benefaction. The agent of Mr. Roe, of Wexford, seized the corn belonging to that gentleman's tenants, for composition rent, and after going through the ceremony of a mock sale, set fire to it in their presence; yet, they possessed their souls in patience, relying upon the paternal disposition of the Government, and looking forward to Parliament for protection and redress.

A general order had been issued from the Horse-Guards, shortly after the affair at Rathcormac, and during the administration of Sir Robert Peel, commanding the King's troops to take care, in their future conflicts with the peasantry, that their fire should be effective.This order was justified by the friends of the Government, on the score of its humanity; but it seemed too deliberate a bespeaking of conflicts, such as it referred to, to fill the breasts of Irishmen with gratitude. Lord Mulgrave's order appeared more humane and considerate of the lives of men, than such a “ keep-your-powder-dry” precept; for he commanded that neither the soldiery nor the police should be brought into active service on tithing expeditions. They were not to march at the heels of the proctor, from one barn-door to another, the actual though not the formal servers of processes and executors of decrees; but, were commanded to station themselves, when required for the protection of the bailiffs, at a convenient distance, so as to secure those persons from outrage. So well apprised were the police of the sincerity of the Executive, in issuing those instructions, that, notwithstanding their known dispositions, and the many trying situations in which they have been placed, they have carefully abstained from violence, in every instance, and avoided all occasion of provoking the attacks of the multitude.

Nothing, indeed, can more satisfactorily demonstrate the honest

and determined spirit of the Irish Government, than the amended conduct and condition of the police under its controul. That establishment, is, in its present constitution, absolutely a partisan force; the individuals who compose it having been appointed by the Tory Magistrates, and chosen, not so much for any moral or physical excellences, as on account of their religious profession. Though taken from the common people, of whom eleven out of twelve are Catholic, the majority of the police are Protestants; a fact, which, of itself, without the evidence of their deeds, would incontestibly prove them to be what we have described thema partisan and sectarian force. Yet, under Lord Mulgrave's firm and just sway, they have been effectually restrained, and made to “ assume the virtue, if they have it not,” of impartiality. It would be too much to say, that they are popular even now; but the people have ceased to regard them with horror and detestation. In many places they are even greeted and acknowledged as protectors; and this compared with the feeling which the name of a policeman universally inspired, not fifteen months agomis much. We do not despair of yet seeing them, under the sound discipline of Colonel Kennedy, growing in favour with all classes, and becoming as popular as the green colour they wear.

The police being restricted from promoting the plan of the Lay Association, to its full extent, an ingenious method was devised of taking them out of the immediate controul of the responsible authorities, and employing them in a more odious and intolerable service than any they had ever before been engaged in. The lawyers, of whom the Tory camp presents a goodly array, drew out a rusty implement, from the armoury of the King's Exchequer, to make a last desperate assault upon the temper, or, as the case might be, upon the lives, of the people. There is a process in the equity practice of that Court, called a Writ of Rebellion, which, for upwards of eighty years, has been unused, save as a form, preliminary to the issue of a sequestration. The Court, by this process, gives authority to commissioners, appointed by the plaintiff or his attorney, to call upon the civil power to aid them in taking a defendant's body into custody. They may break open doors, the process being in the nature of a criminal proceeding, and make their caption on any day, Sunday not excepted, as if the defendant were a culprit. But the practice had fallen into disuse, for nearly a century; when some Tory scribe, skilled to bring forth out of his treasury things old and new, dragged it out, to fortify the Church, in its last onslaught upon the peace and liberty of mankind. The commissioners of rebellion, acting on behalf of an Archdeacon Knox, ordered out a party of police to put their powers in force : but, by the directions

of Lord Morpeth, the authority of their high mightinesses was disregarded; and the barons were applied to, for an attachment against a police magistrate and chief constable, for the contempt.

It is unnecessary, here, to state at length the arguments which were urged on either side of this extraordinary controversy; or the elaborate judgment of the Court. The upshot was, that Chief Baron Joy, and his brother barons, declared it to be the law, that a person, sued for debt in the Court of Exchequer, who neglects to enter an appearance to a particular process of the Court, may not only be taken up under a criminal warrant, but that the whole civil power of the country is at the beck of the holders of that warrant, to assist, by breaking open houses, in order to effect the arrest, at any time they may please to require such aid.

Had such a decree been pronounced, under another Government, we venture to say that we should have heard enough of "firing with effect,before this time. With the dogs of war let slip, at the bidding of attornies' clerks or bailiffs, it is truly wonderful how bloodless the many excursions which have taken place, under the sanction of this high court, have hitherto proved. Ruffians, of the most degraded character, known only for their drunken and reckless behaviour, have been selected to fill the office of commissioners, to execute those writs; and, as the magistrates uniformly evade the unpleasant duty of accompanying them, the police, who are obliged, by the decree of the Court, to attend, have to consult their own discretion as to the degree of obedience they should pay to such conductors.

Happily, as yet, no murder has been perpetrated under the sanction of that preposterous edict; for whích, however, small thanks are due to the forbearance of the parties who have recourse to a proceeding so rigorous and malicious. Neither in the choice of the weapon, nor in the handling of it, have they manifested any disposition to give their opponents quarter.

The commissioners of the Dean of Saint Patrick's, a brother of the Right Honourable George Robert Dawson, went forth at midnight, in a wild district of Kildare, and dragged respectable men from their beds to prison, for tithe. They were attended by a chief constable, and a strong party of police, who, at their bidding, broke open the doors of several houses, at that unseasonable hour. We hope that future burglars will not have cause to plead this example, at the foot of the gallows, as their first temptation. Certainly, there could not be a more dangerous precedent shown in a disorganized neighbourhood; nor a more cruel example, any where, than this, of invading the repose of families, and terrifying the hearts of women and children, by

violence, which hardly any thing, short of the pursuit of a capital felon, could justify.

The Lord-Lieutenant has taken upon himself to forbid the police to go abroad on such excursions any more, after nightfall. We know not how far His Excellency may have committed himself, by thus trenching upon the prerogative of the Court of Exchequer; or whether the barons will attach him, as they threatened to serve the Chief Secretary, for restraining the terrors of their high commission. But, as O'Connell says," God bless him for it, whether or no!He spares no pains to clip the fangs of the factious and disappointed, and render their mischievous dispositions innocuous. If the Court can catch him on the hip, for so doing, let it wreak its stern vengeance upon him. He has the satisfaction, which no pettifogger, on the bench or at the bar, can rob him of, that, from the day he set his foot on the Irish shores up to this moment, his hand is pure from the blood of all men. Let those who condemn him, think what it would have been, if their interested taunts and aspersions had driven him out of the course which his wisdom dictated, and his humanity preferred, to follow their merciless suggestions.

When Earl Grey took leave of his high office, in a speech which went to the heart of every generous and right-minded person, who heard him, the Duke of Wellington, with singular taste and feeling, seized that moment to taunt him with all the blood which had been shed during his administration. “ More blood had been spilled”- was his Grace's strange expression—“ during three years that the noble Earl was in power, than for fifty

It was a most extraordinary and groundless assertion to make. But had there been more of truth in it, it came with a bad grace from the head of that party, in compliance with whose sanguinary demands, whatever damned spots" adhered to the character of Earl Grey's administration, had been contracted. Too much blood, particularly of Irish blood, was shed during that otherwise glorious period. But it is delightful to think, that the worst has passed; and that the present Government, by keeping itself wholly separate and free from the like pernicious contagion, will avoid the guilt and the odium of a similar charge.

years before.”

Art. III.-Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes. By the Author of

Eugene Aram, &c. 3 Vols. 8vo. London, 1835. Life and Times of Rienzi. 12mo. London, 1836. OF all tyrannies an ascendancy is the worst, the most crushing,

the most withering, the most universally destructive. It smites equally with moral disease the oppressor and oppressed ; it sends misery at once to the castle of the baron and the cottage of the serf;. it blasts society, not merely with the sad catalogue of ills included in the pregnant phrase, “the vices of the slave," but adds a larger and blacker list," the vices of the master.” There is no disease of the social constitution so difficult to be healed as this moral gangrene; its roots strike deep and spread wide; the physician is unable to discover one sound spot as a base for his operations, and he fears to apply the knife, lest, either by going too deep, he should cut away some vital part, or, by removing only a portion of the cancer, greater suffering should succeed to temporary alleviation. If a patrician reformer propose to his brethren to withdraw the spur and loosen the rein, if he quote to them the homely but wise proverb, “ the last straw will break the camel's back," he is hooted as a coward, scorned as a deserter, and not unfrequently detested as a traitor by the party to which he belongs; while the plebeians receive his professions with distrust, fearing that he will, under all circumstances, “ stand by his order.” If the reformer be of the plebeian class, he has to contend with difficulties of no ordinary magnitude. The son of the earth who aspires to lead his class to the recovery of their rights, must encounter and subdue at the very outset, and must also be prepared to find possessed of the vitality of the hydra, fresh heads springing up every morning in place of those he has destroyed. Even when he has concentrated the strength of the popular party,when he has won victories that would, if foretold, have appeared the wildest dreams of romance,—in the very hour of triumph, he has need to remember, that a populace once set in motion is less satisfied with having done much, than ipdignant at not having done more. Possunt quia posse videntur," fills their minds in a sense different from that in which the phrase was used by the poet, and their benefactor, instead of gratitude, hears nothing but murmurs. Nothing is so difficult aš to make umeducated minds comprehend the benefits of a reform in the political constitution of a state; by such intellects, an improvement in government, instead of being regarded as the means to an end, is absurdly looked upon as the end itself. Men will not see that the removal of old abuses is but clearing the ground, that it is still necessary to sow the seed, to tend the growth, and to mature

« EdellinenJatka »