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The opening of the year 1848 was signalised by the appointment of a special commission, which was convened to try those accused of agrarian murders in the counties of Tipperary, Limerick, and Clare. The judges were the Chief Justice Blackburne and the Chief Baron Pigot. The commission was pre-eminently successful. The trials commenced at Limerick on the 4th of January. The Chief Justice, in his charge to the jury, drew a melancholy picture of the demoralised state of the country. He praised the patience and enduring fortitude of the people under the visitation of famine, which were generally in the highest degree exemplary, and he made this remarkable statement:"I do not find in the calendar before me, nor after the experience of the last two circuits have I been able to find, a single case in which destitution or distress, arising from the visitation of God, has in the remotest degree influenced this illegal confederacy, or stimulated any of those outrages." The first person tried was the notorious William Ryan, nicknamed "Puck," one of the greatest ruffians ever brought to the bar of justice. He was tried for the murder of a neighbour, named John Kelly, into whose house he entered, and shot him dead upon the spot, in the presence of his family. He was found guilty, and hanged on the 8th of February. He was well known to have committed nine murders during the previous year. A man named Frewin, a respectable farmer, was transported for life, being found guilty of harbouring Ryan, and screening him from justice. The next batch of prisoners consisted of six ill-looking young fellows, all of whom appeared to be about twenty years of age, charged with the abduction of the daughter of a respectable farmer, named Maloney, for whom they were in the habit of working, in order that another farmer, named Creagh, might marry her. Jsuites. The above is one of many curious statements which
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It is impossible to prevent all the disorders that may arise in the universal conflict of human passions. Their increase depends on that of population and on the crossings of private interests, which cannot be directed with geometrical exactness to the public welfare. In political arithmetic the calculation of probabilities must be substituted for mathematical exactness. Glance at the history of the world, and you will see disorders increase with the increase of the bounds of empire; thus national feeling being to the same extent diminished, the general inducement to crime increases with the greater interest of each individual in such disorders, and on this account the necessity for aggravating penalties ever continues to increase.In Ireland there was severe distress prevailing over an extensive district along the western coastno unusual visitation, for the peasantry depended altogether on the potato, a precarious crop, which sometimes failed wholly, and was hardly ever sufficient to last till the new crop came in. The old potatoes generally disappeared or became unfit for human food in June, and from that time till September the destitution was very great, sometimes amounting to actual famine. There was a partial failure of the crop in 1830, which, coupled with the rack-rents extorted by middlemen, gave to agitators topics which they used with effect in disquieting the minds of the peasantry.
An impression got abroad, soon after the Clare election, that the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Peel were wavering on the Catholic question; and in the month of August a profound sensation was produced by a speech made by Mr. Dawson, one of the members for Londonderry. Mr. Dawson was the brother-in-law of the Home Secretary. The latter represented Oxford University, having beaten Canning out of the field, as the champion of Protestant ascendency. The former represented the greatest stronghold of Protestantism in Ireland, the very last of all its constituencies to tolerate a departure from its own inspiring watchword, "No Surrender." Mr. Dawson had been a most uncompromising antagonist of the Catholic claims. We cannot wonder, then, at the startling effect, which ran like an electric shock through the country, when such a mana member of the Governmentat a public banquet, in the midst of the local chiefs of Conservatism within the walls of Derry, surrounded by all the memorials of the glorious Revolution of 1688, pronounced the word "Surrender." He was described as the "pilot balloon," to show the direction in which the wind blew in high quarters. Thus, there was a complete accordance between Mr. Sheil, the eloquent agitator, and Mr. Dawson, one of the ablest and most loyal supporters of the Government, as to the victorious power of the Catholic Association. But to have its triumphs thus proclaimed on the very spot where Protestant ascendency had been established 140 years before, and which had ever since remained its greatest stronghold, was more than could be borne by men who had just been drinking with enthusiasm "The glorious, pious, and immortal memory of William III." Mr. Dawson was, therefore, reviled and execrated; he was burned in effigy, and for years his name was almost as odious to the Orangemen as Lundy the traitor. Hitherto, the agitation on both sides had been little better than child's-play. The Protestant party rested satisfied in the persuasion that "the Constitution in Church and State" was safe in the keeping of a thoroughly Conservative Governmenta House of Lords which would not change the laws of England, and a Sovereign who would not violate his coronation oath. But when they found their standard-bearers fainting, and their most trusted commanders parleying with the enemy, their exasperation knew no bounds. The Brunswickers were now terribly in earnest. Their blood was up, and they longed for the arbitrament of the sword.
1663-1763. CANADIAN FEUDALISM.