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speech exposed the system of jury-packing, bringing forward as a sample of this great injustice the case of Charles Gavan Duffy and his notable trial for an article in the Belfast Vindicator.
In 1845 the death of his only son at Madeira, where Mrs. Sheil and he had gone for the sake of the young man's health, threw him into a deep melancholy, and for a time he could not be induced to leave the island. Ultimately, in 1846, he was prevailed upon to return to England, and again to enter upon public life. On the accession of Lord John Russell to power, Sheil was appointed Master of the Mint, a state office usually held by members of the Cabinet. He went to Florence in 1850 as Ambassador at the court of Tuscany, where he spent some very happy days, surrounded by treasures of art, in which his poetical nature delighted. His familiarity with French enabled him to mix in society, where his wit and geniality were highly appreciated. In that city he died, May 25, 1851. His remains, which were conveyed to Ireland in a ship of war, are interred at Long Orchard in Tipperary. Several editions of Sheil's 'Speeches' with a memoir by T. MacNevin have appeared; also 'Memoir and Speeches of Richard Lalor Sheil,' by W. Torrens M'Cullagh, two vols., London, 1855.
IRELAND'S PART IN ENGLISH ACHIEVE-
From the Speech in the House of Commons in 1837.
Wherever we turn our eyes, we see the national power dilating, expanding, and ascending; never did a liberated nation spring on in the career that freedom throws open towards improvement with such a bound as we have; in wealth, in intelligence, in high feeling, in all the great constituents of a state, we have made in a few years an astonishing progress. The character of our country is completely changed; we are free, and we feel as if we never had been slaves. Ireland stands as erect as if she had never stooped; although she once bowed her forehead to the earth, every trace of her prostration has been effaced.
But these are generalities; these are vague and abstract vauntings, without detail. Well, if you stand in need of specification, it shall be rapidly, but not inconclusively, given. But hold: I was going to point to the first law offices in the country, filled by Roman Catholics; I was going to point to the second judicial office in Ireland, filled by a Roman Catholic; I was going to point to the crowds of Roman Catholics, who, in every profession and walk of life, are winning their way to eminence in the walks that
lead to affluence or to honor. But one single fact suffices for my purpose: Emancipation was followed by Reform, and Reform has thrown sixty men, devoted to the interests of Ireland, into the House of Commons. If the Clare election was a great incident; if the Clare election afforded evidence that Emancipation could not be resisted, look at sixty of us (what are Longford and Carlow but a realization of the splendid intimations that Clare held out?), look, I say, at sixty of us-the majority, the great majority, of the representatives of Ireland-leagued and confederated by an obligation and a pledge as sacred as any with which men, associated for the interests of their country, were ever bound together.
Thank God, we are here! I remember the time when the body to which I belong was excluded from all participation in the great legislative rights of which we are now in the possession. I remember to have felt humiliated at the tone in which I heard the cause of Ireland pleaded, when I was occasionally admitted under the gallery of the House of Commons. I felt pain at hearing us represented as humble suppliants for liberty, and as asking freedom as if it were alms that we were soliciting. Perhaps that tone was unavoidable: thank God, it is no longer necessary or appropriate. Here we are, in all regards your equals, and demanding our rights as the representatives of Britons would demand their own. We have less eloquence, less skill, less astuteness than the great men to whom, of old, the interests of Ireland were confided; but we make up for these imperfections by the moral port and national bearing that become us. In mastery of diction we may be defective; in resources of argument we may be wanting; we may not be gifted with the accomplishments by which persuasion is produced; but in energy, in strenuousness, in union, in fidelity to our country and to each other, and, above all, in the undaunted and dauntless determination to enforce equality for Ireland, we stand unsurpassed. This, then, is the power with which the noble lord courts an encounter, foretells his own victories, and triumphs in their anticipation in the House of Commons. Where are his means of discomfiting us? To what resources does he look for the accomplishment of the wonders which he is to perform? Does he rely upon the excitement of the re
ligious and national prejudices of England; and does he find it in his heart to resort to the "no Popery " cry?
Instead of telling him what he is doing, I'll tell the country what, thirty years ago, was done. In 1807 the Whigs were in possession of Downing Street, and the Tories were in possession of St. James's Palace, but, without the people, the possession of St. James's was of no avail. The Whigs proposed that Roman Catholics should be admitted to the higher grades in the army and navy. The Tories saw that their opportunity was come, and the "no Popery" cry was raised. There existed, at that time, a great mass of prejudice in England. You had conquered Ireland and enslaved her; you hated her for the wrongs that you had done her, and despised her, and perhaps justly, for her endurance: the victim of oppression naturally becomes the object of scorn; you loathed our country, and you abhorred our creed. Of this feeling the Tories took advantage; the tocsin of fanaticism was rung; the war whoop of religious discord, the savage yell of infuriated ignorance, resounded through the country.
Events that ought to have been allowed to remain buried in the oblivion of centuries were disinterred; every misdeed of Catholics, when Catholics and Protestants imbrued their hands alternately in blood, was recalled; the ashes of the Smithfield fires were stirred for sparks with which the popular passions might be ignited. The re-establishment of Popery; the downfall of every Protestant institution; the annihilation of all liberty, civil or religious; these were the topics with which crafty men, without remorse of conscience, worked on the popular delusion. At public assemblies, senators, more remarkable for Protestant piety than Christian charity, delivered themselves of ferocious effusions amidst credulous and enthusiastic multitudes.
Then came public abuses, at which libations to the worst passions of human nature were prodigally poured out. "Rally round the king, rally round the church, rally round the religion of your forefathers," these were the invocations with which the English people were wrought into frenzy; and having, by these expedients, driven their antagonists from office, the Tories passed, themselves, the very measure from which they made their competitors the
objects of their denunciation. Are you playing the same game? If you are, then shame, shame upon you! I won't pronounce upon your motives: let the fact be their interpreters. What is the reason that a new edition of Fox's 'Martyrs,' with hundreds of subscribers, and with the name of the Duke of Cumberland at their head, has been announced? Wherefore, from one extremity of the country to the other, in every city, town, and hamlet, is a perverse ingenuity employed, in order to inspire the people of this country with a detestation of the religion of millions of their fellow citizens? Why is Popery, with her racks, her tortures, and her fagots, conjured up in order to appall the imagination of the English people? Why is perjury to our God, treason to our sovereign, a disregard of every obligation, divine and human, attributed to us? I leave you to answer those questions, and to give your answers, not only to the interrogatories which thus vehemently, and, I will own, indignantly I put to you, but to reply to those which must be administered to you, in your moments of meditation, by your own hearts.
But, whatever be your purpose in the religious excitement which you are endeavoring to get up in this country, of this I am convinced, that the result of your expedients will correspond with their deserts, and that as we have prevailed over you before, we shall again and again discomfit you. Yes, we, the Irish millions, led on by men like those that plead the cause of those millions in this House, must (it is impossible that we should not) prevail; and I am convinced that the people of England, so far from being disposed to array themselves against us, despite any remains of the prejudices which are fast passing away in this country, feel that we are entitled to the same privileges, and extend to us their sympathies in this good and glorious cause.
What is that cause? I shall rapidly tell you. You took away our Parliament-you took from us that Parliament which, like the House of Commons of this country, must have been under the control of the great majority of the people of Ireland, and would not, and could not, have withheld what you so long refused us. Is there a man here who doubts that if the Union had not been conceded, we
should have extorted Emancipation and Reform from our own House of Commons?
That House of Commons you bought, and paid for your bargain in gold; aye, and paid for it in the most palpable and sordid form in which gold can be paid down. But, while this transaction was pending, you told us that all distinctions should be abolished between us, and that we should become like unto yourselves. The great minister of the time, by whom that unexampled sale of our legislature was negotiated, held out equality with England as the splendid equivalent for the loss of our national representation; and, with classical references, elucidated the nobleness of the compact into which we had persuaded the depositants of the rights of their countrymen to enter. The Act of Union was passed, and twenty-nine years elapsed before any effectual measure was taken to carry its real and substantial terms into effect. At last, our enfranchisement was won by our own energy and determination; and, when it was in progress, we received assurances that, in every respect, we should be placed on a footing with our fellow citizens; and it was more specially announced to us, that to corporations, and to all offices connected with them, we should be at once admissible.
Pending this engagement, a bill is passed for the reform of the corporations of this country; and in every important municipal locality in England councilors are selected by the people as their representatives. This important measure having been carried here, the Irish people claim an extension of the same advantages, and ground their titles on the Union, on Emancipation, on Reform, and on the great principle of perfect equality between the two countries, on which the security of one country and the prosperity of both must depend. This demand on the part of Ireland is rejected; and that which to England no one was bold enough to deny, from Ireland you are determined, and you announce it, to withhold.
Is this justice? You will say that it is, and I should be surprised if you did not say so. I should be surprised, indeed, if, while you are doing us wrong, you did not profess your solicitude to do us justice. From the day on which Strongbow set his foot on the shores of Ireland, Englishmen were never wanting in protestations of their