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The delineation of the leading members of the Irish bar is not the only object of these sketches. It is my purpose to describe the striking scenes, and to record the remarkable incidents, which fall within my own forensic observation. That these incidents and scenes should take place in our courts of justice, affords a sufficient justification for making the “Sketches of the Irish Bar” the medium of their narration. I might also suggest that the character of the bar itself is more or less influenced by the nature of the business in which it is engaged. The mind of any man who habitually attends the assizes of Clonmel carries deep, and not perhaps the most useful, impressions away from it. How often have I reproached myself with having joined in the boisterous merriment which either the jests of counsel or the droll perjuries of the witnesses have produced during the trial of a capital offence! How often have I seen the bench, the jury, the bar, and the galleries, of an Irish court of justice, in a roar of tumultuous laughter, while I beheld in the dock the wild and haggard face of a wretch who, placed on the verge of eternity, seemed to be surveying the gulf on the brink of which he stood, and presented, in his ghastly aspect and motionless demeanor, a reproof of the spirit of hilarity with wbich he was to be sent before his God!
It is not that there is any kind of cruelty intermixed with this tendency to mirth ; but that the perpetual recurrence of incidents of the most awful character divests them of the power of producing effect, and that they
“ Whose fall of hair
acquire such a familiarity with direness, that they become not only insensible to the dreadful nature of the spectacles which are presented, but scarcely conscious of them. But it is not merely because the bar itself is under the operation of the incidents which furnish the materials of their professional occupation that I have selected the last assizes at Clonmel as the subject of this article. The extensive circulation of this periodical work affords the opportunity of putting the English public in possession of many illustrative facts; and in narrating the events which attended the murder of Daniel Mara, and the trial of his assassins, I propose to myself the useful end of fixing the general attention upon a state of things wlich ought to lead all wise and good men to the consideration of the only effectual means by which the evils which result from the moral condition of the country may be remedied.* '
In the month of April, 1827, a gentleman of the name of Chadwick was murdered in the open day, at a place called Rath Cannon, in the immediate vicinity of the old Abbey of Holycross. Mr. Chadwick was the member of an influential family, and was employed as land-agent in colleeting their rents. The person who fills this office in England is called “ a steward;" but in Ireland it is designated by the more honorable name of a land-agency. The discharge of the duties of this situation must be always more or less obnoxious. In times of public distress, the landlord, who is himself urged by his own creditors, urges liis agent on, and the latter inflicts upon the tenants the necessities of his employer.
I have heard that Mr. Chadwick was not peculiarly rigorous in the exaction of rent, but he was singularly injudicious in his demeanor toward the lower orders. He believed that they detested him; and, possessing personal courage, bade them defiance. He was not a man of a bad heart; but was despotic and contumelious in his manners to those whose hatred le returned with contempt. It is said that he used to stand amous a body of the peasantry, and, observing that his corpulency was on the increase, was accustomed to exclaim, “ I think I am fattening upon your curses !” In answer to these taunts,
* This sketch was published in July, 1828.- M.
MURDER OF JR. CHADWICK.
the peasants who surrounded bim, and who were well habituated to the concealment of their fierce and terrible passions, affected to laugh, and said that “his honor was mighty pleasant; and sure his honor, God bless him, was always fond of his joke!" But while they indulged in the sycophaney under which they are wont to smother their sanguinary detestations, they were lying in wait for the occasion of revenge. Perhaps, however, they would not have proceeded to the extremities to which they had recourse, but for a determination evinced hy Mr. Chadwick to take effectual means for keeping them in awe. He set about building a police-barrack at Rath Caunon. It was resolved that Mr. Chadwick should die.
This decision was not the result of individual vengeance. The wide confederacy into which the lower orders are organized in Tipperary held council upon liim, and the village areopagus pronounced his sentence. It remained to find an executioner,
Patrick Grace, who was almost a boy, but was distinguished by various feats of guilty courage, offered himself as a volunteer in what was regarded by him as an honorable cause. He had set up in the county as a sort of knight-errant against landlords; and, in the spirit of a barbarous chivalry, proffered his gratuitous services wherever what he conceived to be a wrong was to be redressed. IIe proceeded to Rath Cannon; and, without adopting any sort of precaution, and while the public road was traversed by numerous passengers, in the broad daylight, and just beside the barrack, in the construction of which Mr. Chadwick was engaged, shot that unfortunate gentleman, who fell instantly dead.
This dreadful crime produced a great sensation, not only in the county where it was perpetrated, but through the whole of Ireland. When it was announced in Dublin, it created a sort of dismay, as it evinced the spirit of atrocious intrepidity to which the peasantry had been roused. It was justly accounteil, by those who looked upon this savage assassination with most horror, as furnishing evidence of the moral condition of the people, and as intimating the consequences which might be anticipated from the ferocity of the peasantry, if ever they
should be let loose. Patrick Grace calculated on impunity; but his confidence in the power and terrors of the confederacy with which he was associated was mistaken. A brave, and a religious man, whose name was Philip Mara, was present at the murder. He was standing beside his employer, Mr. Chadwick, and saw Grace put him deliberately to death. Grace was well aware that Mara had seen him, but did not believe that he would dare to give evidence against him. It is probable, too, that he conjectured that Mara coincided with him in his ethics of assassination, and applauded the proceeding. Mara, however, who was a moral and virtuous man, was horrorstruck by what he had beheld; and, under the influence of conscientious feelings, gave immediate information to a magistrate. Patrick Grace was arrested, and tried at the summer assizes of 1827.
I was not present at his trial, but have heard from good authority that he displayed a fearless demeanor; and that when he was convicted upon the evidence of Philip Mara, he declared that before a year should go by he should have vengeance in the grave. He was ordered to be executed near the spot where his misdeed bad been perpetrated. This was a signal mistake, and produced an effect exactly the reverse of what was contemplated. The lower orders looked upon him . as a martyr; and his deportment, personal beauty, and andaunted courage, rendered him an object of deep interest and sympathy upon the scaffold. He was attended by a body of troops to the old Abbey of Holycross, where not less than fifteen thousand people assembled to behold him.
The site of the execution rendered the spectacle a most striking one. The Abbey of Holycross is the finest and most venerable monastic ruin in Ireland. Most travellers turn from their way to survey it, and leave it with a deep impression of its solemnity and grandeur. A vast multitude was assembled round the scaffold. The prisoner was brought forward in the midst of the profound silence of the people. He ascended and surveyed them; and looked upon the ruins of the edifice which had once been dedicated to the worship of his religion, and to the sepulchres of the dead which were strewed among its aisles,
and had been for ages as he was in a few minutes about to be. It was not known whether he would call for vengeance from his survivors, or for mercy from Heaven. His kindred, his close friends, his early companions, all that he loved, and all to whom he was dear, were around him, and nothing, except a universal sob from his female relatives, disturbed the awful taciturnity that prevailed. At the side of Patrick Grace stood the priest— the mild admonitor of the heart, the soother of affliction, and the preceptor of forgiveness — who attended him in the last office of humanity, and who proved by the result how weh he had performed it.
To the disappointment of the people, Patrick Grace expressed himself profoundly contrite; and, although he evinced no fear of death, at the instance of the Roman Catholic clergyman who attended him, implored the people to take warning by bis example. In a few moments after, he left existence. But the effect of his execution will be estimated by this remarkable incident. His gloves were handed by one of his relations to an old man of the name of John Russel, as a keepsake. Russel drew them on, and declared at the same time that he should wear them “till Paddy Grace was revenged ;" and revenged he soon afterward was, within the time which be had himself prescribed for retribution, and in a manner which is as much calculated to excite astonishment at the strangeness, as detestation for the atrocity of the crime, of which I proceed to narrate the details.
Philip Mara was removed by Government from the country. It was perfectly obvious that, if he had continued to sojourn in Tipperary, his life would have been taken speedily, and at all hazards, away. It was decided that all his kindred should be exterminated. He had three brothers; and the bare consanguinity with a traitor (for his crime was treason) was regarded as a sufficient offence to justify their immolation. If they could not procure his own blood for the purposes of sacrifice, it was however something to make libation of that which flowed from the same source. The crimes of the Irish are derived from the same origin as their virtues. They have powerful domestic attaehments. Their love and devotion to their