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sons only cannot be guilty of a prerogative, that the law and con riot, this indictment in effect fail- stitution have given to my office; I ed: the other was ignored. When will discharge that duty honestly, these proceedings were announced to and with the blessing of God, fearthe Court on the 2nd of January, lessly, unintimidated by that gang the attorney-general expressed which have formed themselves into his surprise at the result, in lan- a faction to beard the king's goguage not very temperate. ." It is vernment, to overturn the laws of needless to observe to the Court,” the country, and even to insult and said he, “that, according to the tech- outrage the very person of the nicalities of our law, a riot cannot king's representative in Ireland, be committed by only two persons; pursuing the course of outrage and had even the bills been found for violence from the hostility that a riot only against all the parties, they had taken up against that veI would have still felt it to be my nerated nobleman, for his zeal and duty to adopt the line of conduct firmness in carrying into effect the I am about to intimate in the pre- king's intentions towards Ireland, sence of the Court. I will not ar- of allaying the dissentions, and rogate to myself the office of ar- healing the wounds that have afraigning the grand jury of the cityflicted this unhappy country. The of Dublin; they have discharged course of conduct that my duty ditheir functions in the presence of rects me to pursue, will be, in the their God; under the sanction of execution of the prerogative ana solemn oath, taken in the face of nexed to my office, to file ex officio their country ; to that God alone informations, and speedily to bring are they accountable. But I have before the country all the parties also a duty to perform-I will, charged in these indictments.” In without anticipating the guilt of the mean time, till the informations any individual, state solemnly, in could be filed, he held the accused the presence of this crowded au- to bail. dience, that in all my readings-in On the following day, the judge all my experience—in all the an- likewise expressed his surprise nals of this unfortunate country at the fate of the indictments: I never did find a case so fully de- and on the 6th of January, the monstrated, of the foulest conspi- grand jury, by their foreman, racy to riot, of so much atrocity Sir George Whiteford, presented as scarcely to be heightened by the to the Court a strong remonstrance aggravation, that its object was, to against the insinuations which had insult and outrage the representa- been thrown out respecting their tive of the king's majesty in the conduct. This remonstrance conpublic theatre. I will exercise the cluded with the following words: dence, of a conscientious considera- from the gallery, but there was no tion of its weight, and of a sincere reason for believing that it was anxiety to adhere to the direction aimed at lord Wellesley; and of the learned judge, who so fully though a fragment of a wooden and clearly detailed to us the na- rattle hit the front of his box, the ture of our duties, and the princi- missile, even supposing its direction ples by which we were bound to to have been the result of design be regulated in discharging them.” and not of accident, was of too
“ It must be recollected, that to cond it was charged, that they had com•
us exclusively is the evidence mitted it with each other, leaving out the cum multis aliis. It was on this known on which our judgment was * second count that the grand jury found founded, and we therefore trust, the defendants guilty ; but as they had that this high Court will receive not found them guilty cum multis aliis, the declaration which' we now soand as two persons could not in law be lemnly and unanimously make, guilty of a riot, the finding was not one on which any proceedings could take
that our decision was the result of place.
a laborious scrutiny of the evic
In the ensuing Hilary term, in- contemptible a kind to permit the formations ex officio were filed, use of it to be ascribed to a deadly and the rioters were put upon their purpose. In bringing forward the trial in the beginning of February. accusation of a plot to take away The proceedings lasted several the life of the representative of days, * but were ultimately inef- majesty, the attorney-general exfectual: for the jury, after being ceeded the bounds both of justice shut up from the afternoon of Fri- and of prudence: and the undue day to the noon of Saturday, and violence, with which he commenced having been several times sum- his proceedings, excited a spirit of moned into court by the judge, resistance, which baffled him in were unable to agree, and were his attempts to convict the accused discharged without having return- even of that degree and species of ed any verdict. The attorney-ge- guilt, which he brought home to neral, being thus once more baffled, them by satisfactory proof. intimated, that he would not be de- A public man, who deserves terred by what had happened from some blame, generally meets with bringing the accused again to trial, more than he deserves. if he should deem such a course
the fortune of Mr. Plunkett; who, advisable.
Subsequently, hown on this occasion, was assailed with ever, it was not thought prudent loud clamour, for having filed ex to carry the contest with the officio informations, after the grand Orange party any further; and a jury had in substance ignored the rolle prosequi was entered upon bills of indictment. The legality the informations.
of the proceeding was unquestionFrom the evidence produced able: what then was there to upon the trial, it appeared clearly blame in it? Was it harsh to the that the riot at the theatre had accused ? No: he had not exerted been the effect of a preconcerted against them the full powers of his scheme, the object of which was, to office, and he had recourse to it, express publicly the dissatisfaction only when the more ordinary of a certain party with the
means failed. govern
Was it unjust? ment of lord Wellesley. On the Justice and injustice have a refeother hand, it is equally mani- rence to the community at large ; fest, that there was not the slightest and surely it was no more than he ground of rational probability for owed to society, as & principal the charge of a conspiracy to mur- guardian of the laws, to bring to der the lord-lieutenant. A bottle, trial, before the eyes of the whole indeed, was thrown upon the stage world, individuals against whom
there existed the strongest proof of • For the details of this trial see p. very grave criminality. In the pri21* of this volume.
vacy of a grand jury, that proof had
not been reckoned sufficient; bút than a misdemeanour, and should that circumstance afforded no reason be proceeded against as such. The against a public investigation, es- investigation continued seven days, pecially in an affair which was no- during which the solicitor-general toriously much mingled up with a and himself attended most assispirit of faction.
duously; and in the course of it, On the 24th of February, Mr. it appeared that Forbes went, after Brownlow, in the House of Com- he was released, to a tavern in mons, moved for copies of the com- Essex-street, and took part in a mittals of the persons engaged in conversation about the throwing of the alleged riot and conspiracy on the bottle, and the riot: he spoke the 14th of last December, in the of himself as so involved in it, that Dublin theatre; copies of the his life might be placed in jeòbills of indictment, alleging a riot pardy; he said he knew he might and conspiracy to riot, which were be transported to Botany Bay, but
preferred to the grand jury in the he had no objection to suffer that city of Dublin, on the 1st of punishment, provided he could January, and the finding of the have the satisfaction of establishing jury thereon ; and a copy of the an Orange-lodge there; that he ex officio informations, on the same had only one life, and was ready subject, filed in the court of King's- to sacrifice it for the cause. He bench by his majesty's attorney- complained that the missiles were general for Ireland. These papers bad, and expressed his regret that were granted without opposition, they had missed, and his intention though not without discussion of making another attempt, which, They related exclusively to that he hoped, would be more successful. head of charge against the legal All this was proved by the testiadministration of Ireland, which mony of Mr. Farrell, an attorney, consisted in the filing ex officio in- and Mr. Troy, a silk mercer. formations, after the indictments When he (Mr. Plunkett) heard this had been ignored by the grand evidence, the whole transaction jury. On this point, Mr. Plunkett assumed a new character, and it felt bimself strong, and therefore appeared to him, that a deliberate did not hesitate to grant all that plan to attack the lord-lieutenant his opponents required. On the had existed, which might have other charge--that of having, with- been attended with the most fatal out sufficient grounds, committed consequences; and under that imthree persons to prison on an accu- pression he gave his conscientious sation of a conspiracy to kill the advice to the magistrates to comlord-lieutenant-he was not equally mit. Subsequently he had changed compliant. Colonel Barry on the his opinion : and he had done so, 24th of March moved for copies of because, on further examination, the informations, on which the it had appeared to him, that the committal of Forbes, Graham, and object of the conspiracy was, not Handwich, for the capital crime to murder the lord-lieutenant, but proceeded. Mr. Plunkett, in re- to compel him to change his measisting the motion, stated, that, sures. The danger to his excelwhen he was originally consulted, lency's life was consequential, and his first impressi
ssion was, that the not direct: and, therefore, the transaction involved nothing more crime did not, in the eye of the
law, amount to a conspiracy to On the 15th of April, Mr. murder, though, in truth, it was Brownlow moved the following of a nature not less heinous. resolution : “ That it appears to
With respect to the depositions this House that the conduct of his of which the production was now majesty's attorney-general for Irecalled for, he contended that to land, with respect to the persons grant them would be a violation charged with a riot in the Dublin of the constitution, and altogether theatre, on the 14th of December without precedent. It would be last, particularly in bringing them unjust, also, to the magistrates who to trial upon informations filed acted in the case, and who were ex-officio after bills of indictment liable to be prosecuted by the ac- against them for the same offence cused parties for having committed had been thrown out by a grand them, to put into the hands of the jury, was unwise ; that it was latter beforehand the grounds upon contrary to the practice, and not which the magistrates had pro- congenial to the spirit of the ceeded. He had never heard of British constitution ;-and that it an instance where such a step had ought not to be drawn into a prebeen taken. It would be a dan- cedent hereafter.” This propogerous precedent to adopt at any sition he prefaced by a speech, in time; for no man would come which he commented on the geforward and give information neral nature of informations exagainst others, if the seal of se- officio-the unprecedented use that crecy, under which he gave it, had been made of them here—and were to be broken, before the whole the particular circumstances of the case underwent the investigation proceedings in question. The only in a court of justice. Mr. Peel, defence set up was, heobserved, that sir J. Newport, and Mr. Spring the course was legal. Legal or illeRice, resisted the motion on gal, would it have
been taken in Enggrounds similar to those stated by land ? He would suppose the secreMr. Plunkett: Dr. Lushington, tary for foreign affairs to announce lord A. Hamilton, Mr. Grattan, bisintention of visiting the theatre; and Mr. Lambton supported it and a set of Englishmen to fancy At the elose of the debate, it was that the cause of Spain had not rejected by a majority of 48 to 32. been sufficiently vindicated by this
The next step taken in this affair country in the late negotiations, was the presenting, by Mr. We- and that blame was due to the therell, on the 11th of April, of a right honourable secretary petition from the grand jury of that account. Suppose such a Dublin, complaining of the im- set of men to meet at some coffeeputations which had been thrown house adjoining Covent-garden upon them by the attorney-ge- theatre, and to plan an attack neral for Ireland. This drew from upon Mr. Canning with a view that officer a justification of his to drive him, if possible, from measures, and a declaration, that the theatre and from the councils it was the conduct of the grand of the king ; suppose a bill, on jury, along with some facts re- such account, to be presented to a specting them which had com to grand jury and ignored; would the his knowledge, that had induced English attorney-general venture him to file the informations. afterwards to proceed ex-officio ?
Would he venture, even if com- they had been actuated, and the manded to do so? He (Mr. mode in which the panel had Brownlow) believed that the at- been framed. Had he acquiesced torney-general dared do no such in their finding, the ends of pubthing that the learned gentle- lic justice, he argued, would have man knew that it would be as been defeated. Thirteen witnesses much as his situation, perhaps as had been examined before that much as his life, was worth to do grand jury, exclusively of other
Then why talk of the thing's witnesses produced on the subbeing legal? Was the nature of sequent trial: and any impartial the proceeding changed by occur- person, looking at the evidence, ring on one side of the water in- would at once declare, that there stead of the other? Was it meant was no part of the bill of indictto contend, that the same thing ment, whether it referred to the would be constitutional in Ireland, conspiracy, to the riot, or to the and yet absolutely intolerable in assault, that was not completely England ? The question (Mr. proved. There was
no sound Brownlow concluded) was not, how mind that would not admit, that far, upon strict law, the proceeding the men, who could have brought in question could be borne out; the themselves to such a conclusion question was—had it been a consti- as the Dublin grand jury had, tutional proceeding, an expedient could not have arrived at it by proceeding, a proceeding which, legitimate means. It had been under similar circumstances, would distinctly proved, that a plan had have been adopted in this country? been formed to commit a riot; that,
Mr. Plunkett showed, by in furtherance of that plan, a legal precedents, that ex-officio number of persons assembled at informations might be, and had the theatre; that a missile had been, filed, after a grand jury had been thrown by Graham; that rejected indictments for the same Forbes had gone the day before to matters: and he contended, that, the theatre to buy tickets for the if the crown were to be excluded purpose of packing an audience from this course, the effect would that Forbes was taken with the be, that the attorney-general would whistle in his hand with which he be driven to have recourse to the incited the rioters; that, at a subprerogative of his office in every sequent meeting at a tavern, he case, instead of proceeding in the had expressed his concern at the first instance as a common prose- failure of their purpose, and his cutor: for what attorney-general hopes of success on a future occawould prefer an indictment, if the sion. Yet, with such evidence, finding of a grand jury-however the grand jury ignored the bill: erroneous--however clearly ema- and their reason for doing so could nating from mistake or prejudice not be mistaken. It was his (Mr. -were to deprive him of the Plunkett's) conviction, that they, means of putting the accused upon the grand jury, conceived the plan their trial. His conduct in this of these rioters to be a very right particular case he justified by im- and proper plan. They conceived, peaching the finding of the Dublin that, when the lord lieutenant, grand jury, the conduct which they in compliance with the expressed had pursued, the motives by which desires of his sovereign, had ex