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over the wounds of slander ? He who ridicules my poverty, or reproaches my profession, upbraids me with that which industry may retrieve, and integrity may purify: but what riches shall redeem the bankrupt fame? what power shall blanch the sullied snow of character ? Can there be an injury more deadly? Can there be a crime more cruel? It is without remedy-it is without antidote—it is without evasion! The reptile calumny is
— ever on the watch. From the fascination of its eyc no activity can escape; from the venom of its fang no sanity can recover. It has no enjoyment but crime; it has no prey but virtue ; it has no interval from the restlessness of its malice, save when, bloated with its victims, it grovels to disgorge them at the withered shrine where envy idolizes her own infirmities. Under such a visitation how dreadful would be the destiny of the virtuous and the good, if the providence of our constitution had not given you the power, as, I trust, you will have the principle, to bruise the head of the serpent, and crush and crumble the altar of its idolatry!
And now, Gentlemen, having toiled through this narrative of unprovoked and pitiless persecution, I should with pleasure consign my client to your hands, if a more imperative duty did not still remain to me, and that is, to acquit him of every personal motive in the prosecution of this action. No; in the midst of slander, and suffering, and severities unexampled, he has had no thought, but, that as his enemies evinced how malice could persecute, he should exemplify how religion could endure; that if his piety failed to affect the oppressor, his patience might at least avail to fortify the afflicted. He was as the rock of Scripture before the face of infidelity. The rain of the deluge had fallen-it only smoothed his asperities: the wind of the tempest beat-it only blanched his brow: the rod, not of prophecy, but of persecution, smote him; and the desert, glittering with the Gospel dew, became a miracle of the faith it would have tempted! No, Gentlemen; not selfishly has he appealed to this tribunal: but the venerable religion wounded in his character,—but the august priesthood vilified in his person,but the doubts of the sceptical, hardened by his acquiescence, but the fidelity of the feeble, hazarded by his forbearance, goaded him from the profaned privacy of the cloister into this repulsive scene of public accusation. In him this reluctance
springs from a most natural and characteristic delicacy: in u. it would become a most overstrained injustice. No, Gentlemen though with him we must remember morals outraged, religion assailed, law violated, the priesthood scandalized, the press betrayed, and all the disgusting calendar of abstract evil; yet with him we must not reject the injuries of the individual sufferer. We must picture to ourselves a young man, partly by the self-denial of parental love, partly by the energies of personal exertion, struggling into a profession, where, by the pious exercise of his talents, he may make the fame, the wealth, the flatteries of this world, so many angel heralds to the happiness of the next. His precept is a treasure to the poor ; his prac- . tice, a model to the rich. When be reproves, sorrow seeks his presence as a sanctuary; and in his path of peace, should he pause by the death-bed of despairing sin, the soul becomes imparadised in the light of his benediction! Imagine, Gentlemen, you see him thus; and then, if you can, imagine vice so desperate as to defraud the world of so fair a vision. Anticipate for a moment the melancholy evidence we must too soon adduce to you. Behold him, by foul, deliberate, and infamous calumny, robbed of the profession he had so struggled to obtain ; swindled from the flock he had so laboured to ameliorate; torn from the school where infant virtue vainly mourns an artificial orphanage; hunted from the home of his youth, from the friends of his heart, a hopeless, fortuneless, companionless exile, hanging, in some stranger scene, on the precarious pity of the few, whose charity might induce their compassion to bestow, what this remorseless slanderer would compel their justice to withhold! I will not pursue this picture; I will not detain you from the pleasure of your possible compensation ; for oh! divine is the pleasure you are destined to experience;—dearer to your hearts shall be the sensation, than to your pride shall be the dignity it will give you. What! though the people will hail the saviours of their pastor : what! though the priesthood will hallow the guardians of their brother; though many a peasant heart will leap at your name, and many an infant eye will embalm their fame who restored to life, to station, to dignity, to character, the venerable friend who taught their trembling tongues to lisp the rudiments of virtue and religion, still dearer than all will be the consciousness of the deed. Nor, believe me, countrymen, will it rest here. Oh no: if there be light in instinct, or truth in revelation, believe me, at that awful hour, when you shall await the last inevitable verdict, the eye of your hope will not be the less bright, nor the agony of your ordeal the more acute, because you shall have, by this day's deed, redeemed the Almighty's persecuted apostle from the grasp of an insatiate malice—from the fang of a worse than Philistine persecution.
SPEECH OF MR. PHILLIPS
IN THE CASE OF
CONNAGHTON O. DILLON:
DELIVERED IN THE COUNTY COURT-HOUSE OF ROSCOMMON.
My Lord and Gentlemen,
In this case I am one of the counsel for the Plaintiff, who has directed me to explain to you the wrongs for which, at your hands, he solicits reparation. It appears to me a case which undoubtedly merits much consideration, as well from the novelty of its appearance amongst us, as for the circumstances by which it is attended. Nor am I ashamed to say, that in my mind, not the least interesting of those circumstances is, the poverty of the man who has made this appeal to me. Few are the cozsolations which soothe--hard must be the heart which does not feel for him. He is, Gentlemen, a man of lowly birth and humble station; with little wealth but from the labour of his hands, with no rank but the integrity of his character, with no recreation but in the circle of his home, and with no ambition, but, when his days are full, to leave that little circle the inheritance of an honest name, and the treasure of a good man's memory. Far inferior, indeed, is he in this respect to his more fortunate antagonist. He, on the contrary, is amply either blessed or cursed with those qualifications which enable a man to adorn or disgrace the society in which he lives. He is, I understand, the representative of an honourable name, the relative of a distinguished family, the supposed heir to their virtues, the indisputable inheritor of their riches. He has been for many years a resi
a dent of your county, and has had the advantage of collecting round him all those recollections, which, springing from the scenes of school-boy association, or from the more matured enjoyments of the man, crowd, as it were, unconsciously to the heart, and cling with a venial partiality to the companion and the
friend. So impressed, in truth, has he been with these advantages, that, surpassing the usual expenses of a trial, he has selected a tribunal where he vainly hopes such considerations will have weight, and where he well knows my client's humble rank can have no claim but that to which his miseries may entitle him. I am sure, however, he has wretchedly miscalculated. I know none of you personally; but I have no doubt I am addressing men who will not prostrate their consciences before privilege or power; who will remember that there is a nobility above birth, and a wealth beyond riches: who will feel that, as in the eye of that God, to whose aid they have appealed, there is not the minutest difference between the rag and the robe, so in the contemplation of that law, which constitutes our boast, guilt can have no protection, or innocence no tyrant; men who will have pride in proving, that the noblest adage of our noble constitution is not an illusive shadow; and that the peasant's cottage, roofed with straw, and tenanted by poverty, stands as inviolate from all invasion as the mansion of the monarch.
My client's name, Gentlemen, is Connaghton, and when I have given you his name you have almost all his history. To cultivate the path of honest industry comprises, in one line,“ the short and simple annals of the poor.” This has been his humble, but at the same time most honourable occupation. It matters little with what artificial nothings chance may distinguish the name, or decorate the person: the child of lowly life, with virtue for its handmaid, holds as proud a title as the highest-as rich an inheritance as the wealthiest. Well has the poet of your country said—that
“ Princes or Lords may flourish or may fade,
When once destroyed can never be supplied." For all the virtues which adorn that peasantry, which can render humble life respected, or give the highest stations their most permanent distinctions, my client stands conspicuous. A hundred years of sad vicissitude, and, in this land, often of strong temptation, have rolled away since the little farm on which he lives received his family; and during all that time not one accusation has disgraced, not one crime has sullied it. The same spot has seen his grandsire and his parent pass away from this world; the village memory records their worth, and the rustic tear