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if a Catholic and a Protestant appear in court, let the case be criminal or civil, all the passions and prejudices are excited, and the glorious uncertainty of the law itself is lost in the greater uncertainty of what may be the verdict of the jury. I leave out those cases where a criminal is arraigned for some offence against the peace of our Lord the King;—that is, against the power or the crimes of the Ascendancy or its agents, against the Peacepreservation Bill, or the Insurrection Act, or the Whiteboy Act, or any of the acts framed for the establishment or security of the rights of the Church. When a man is arraigned upon any one of these, for not having the fear of God before his eyes, (as Serjeant Lefroy would term it,) the law itself awakes the passions, and men are found to rush to its execution upon the criminal (for if arraigned he is supposed guilty) with all the avidity of hungry mastiffs. I have sometimes sat for hours in courts of justice, both in Dublin and in the country; I have heard witnesses examined, lawyers declaiming, judges charging, juries bringing in verdicts; and I have observed,
in many cases, the influence of the penal code working throughout every thing I heard or saw. But what seemed to me most lamentable was, the unconsciousness of this influence which sometimes seemed to prevail, whilst at others it escaped, as it were accidentally, or was unblushingly avowed and acted upon.
The witnesses as often labour to conceal, as to manifest the truth; one class of them anxious to defeat the law, the other only intent on procuring conviction; both regardless of the obligation of an oath, and perfectly indifferent about contributing to the ends of justice. The national acuteness of the lawyer is whetted by what he has to combat in the witness; hence, he is often interestingsometimes ludicrous in speaking to evidence, you can instantly perceive to what party he belongs. The judge is often decorous; on some occasions you imagine he is the advocate of the crown or of the criminal; there are times and cases when you know not how to designate him, and you only lament that wicked system which placed him on the bench.
The juries, in criminal cases, generally are such as can be most easily found. But when a special interest is excited by the trial, the art, and talent, and trick, employed at one time by the sheriff's deputy, at another by the clerk of the crown, to array their men and produce a jury, is such as would furnish food for several months' reflection to those two sages who spent their lives weeping or laughing over the follies or wickedness of their fellow-men. In short, the administration of justice in Ireland is thwarted by the spirit of the law; it is analogous to the unsettled state of the country, and influenced constantly by the character of those who are employed about it.
There is an old and an unnatural conflict be tween the people and the laws. Until lately there was no justice in Ireland, unless by accident, or when the good sense of men interposed at intervals of tranquillity, and superseded the law itself. At present the virtue and talent of some judges; the reports of law proceedings, which are constantly circulating; the character of the Chief Go
vernor; the spirit of the people, not easily brooking oppression; the custom of holding sessions in open court; and the innate justice of the well educated and most opulent of the gentry, are combating, with some success, against the bad laws, and the spirit engendered by them.
I have the honour to be,
Dear Sir, &c. &c.
J. K. L.
ON THE INCREASE OF POPULATION IN IRELAND; ITS
Ir seems to be allowed
on all hands, that there has been a prodigious increase of people in Ireland during the last thirty or forty years. I also think there has been an increase, but not to the extent which is generally supposed. There has been no accurate census of our population at any period; the last is more near to the truth than any which preceded it, yet it is imperfect. I have no doubt that there are considerably more than seven millions of inhabitants in Ireland.