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A Privy Council was held at Dublin Castle, at which it was determined to offer rewards for the arrest of the principal conspirators - £500 for William Smith O'Brien, and £300 each for Meagher, Dillon, and O'Doherty." The offence charged was, having taken up arms against Her Majesty. Personal sketches, not very flattering, were published in the Hue and Cry. Numerous arrests were made daily of persons known to have been engaged in the manufacture of pikes, and otherwise implicated in the rebellion. The rewards offered soon brought matters to a crisis. As soon as the proclamations were posted up, Sub-Inspector Trant proceeded from Callan, in the County Kilkenny, with a body of between fifty and sixty of the constabulary, in the hope of capturing some of the proclaimed rebels. Arrived on Boulagh Common, near Ballingarry, on the borders of Tipperary and Kilkenny, they took possession of a slated farmhouse, belonging to a widow named Cormack. This house they hastily fortified, by piling tables, beds, and other articles against the doors and windows. The insurrection actually commenced at a place called Mullinahone, where, at the ringing of the chapel bell, large numbers of the peasantry assembled in arms, and hailed Smith O'Brien as their general. He was armed with a short pike and several pistols, which he had fastened to a belt. On the 26th of July he went to the police barrack, where there were but six men, and endeavoured to persuade them to join him, promising better pay and promotion under the republic, and telling them that they would resist at their peril. They refused. He then demanded their arms, but they answered that they would die rather than surrender them. He gave them an hour to consider, but departed without carrying his threat into execution. On, the 29th Mr. Smith O'Brien appeared on Boulagh Common with increased forces, who surrounded the house in which the constabulary were shut up. He went into the cabbage garden to speak to the police at an open window. Ho addressed one of the men, and earnestly pressed them to surrender and give up their arms. The constable said he would call Mr. Trant. That gentleman immediately hastened to the spot; but the rebel chief had taken his departure. He mounted a horse which had been taken from a policeman in coloured clothes, and rode about amongst his troops in a general's uniform. Apprehending an attack, Mr. Trant immediately ordered his men to fire, when a battle commenced, which speedily terminated with -the defeat of the rebels, of whom two were killed and several wounded. Two shots were aimed at Smith O'Brien without effect; but one of them hit a rebel who was standing by his side brandishing a pike. He was killed on the spot. Another party of police, under the command of Mr. Cox, and accompanied by Mr. French, the stipendiary magistrate, came up at the instant, and fired on the rebels, after which they fled in the greatest disorder. Eighteen were killed and a large number wounded. The police suffered no loss whatever. A large detachment of the 83rd Regiment and about 150 of the constabulary, with Inspector Blake, hastened to the defence of the besieged party; but when they arrived the danger was over, and the police returned to Callan. That evening twenty signal fires blazed on the mountain of Slieve-na-mon. Next day, being Sunday, the military did not attend public worship, and were everywhere kept on the alert. The greatest excitement appeared amongst the peasantry at the Roman Catholic chapels, who were in hourly expectation of being called upon to act, the most anxious solicitude being painted upon the countenances of the women. There is no doubt, from the temper of the population, that had the priests given the word there would have been a general rising. But they almost universally condemned the conduct of the leaders as insane, and as certain to involve them and all who joined them in destruction. In the meantime, General Macdonald, at the head of his "flying column," consisting of 1,700 men, pursued the insurgents, while troops and artillery were poured into Clonmel, Kilkenny, and Thurles. Near the latter place General Macdonald en camped on the domain of Turtulla, the seat of Mr. Mäher, M.P. The butchers of Thurles refused to supply the men with meat, and consequently provisions had to be brought from the commissariat stores at Limerick, and large quantities of biscuits from Dublin, the people having broken into the house of the baker who supplied them with bread at Thurles and destroyed his furniture.

After the flight from Ballingarry, and the desertion of his followers', Smith O'Brien abandoned the cause in despair, and concealed himself for several days among the peasantry in a miserable state of mind. He had none of the qualities of a rebel chief; and he had not at all calculated the exigencies of the position that he had so rashly and criminally assumed, involving the necessity of wholesale plunder and sanguinary civil strife, from which his nature shrank. Besides, he soon found that the people would not trust a Protestant leader, and that there was, after all, no magic in the name of O'Brien for a Roman Catholic community. But to the honour of the peasantry it should be spoken, that though many of them were then on the verge of starvation, not one of them yielded to the temptation of large rewards to betray him or his fugitive colleagues, and several of them ran the risk of transportation by giving them shelter. Under these circumstances, on the 5th of August, Mr. O'Brien walked from his hiding-place in the Keeper Mountains into Thurles, where he arrived about eight o'clock in the evening. Ho went immediately to the railway station to procure a ticket for Limerick. There were seventeen constables on the platform in coloured clothes who did not know him; but a railway guard, named Hulme, an Englishman, recognised him, and tapping him on the shoulder, he presented a pistol at him, and said, " You are the Queen's prisoner." A strong escort of police was immediately procured, and the prisoner was conveyed in a special train to Dublin, where he was lodged in Kilmainham Gaol. Messrs. Meagher, M. R. Lane, and P. J. O'Donoghue were also arrested in the same neighbourhood, and lodged in the same gaol.

Thus ended the rebellion of 1848, which had so long kept the country in a state of alarm. It is true that some of the leaders headed small bodies of insurgents in the county of Waterford, and attacked several police baracks, but in none of the affrays were the insurgents successful. The police, who were not more than one to fifty of the rebels, routed them in every instance without any loss of life on their part. The constabulary were then 10,000 strong in Ireland, and upon their desertion to his ranks Smith O'Brien confidently counted; but though the majority of the force were Roman Catholics, they were loyal to a man. Dillon and O'Gorman had escaped to France, but Terence McManus, a fine young man, who had given up a prosperous business as a broker in Liverpool to become an officer in the "Army of Liberation," was arrested in an American vessel proceeding from Cork to the United States. A special commission for the trial of the prisoners was opened on the 21st of September, at Clonmel, high treason having been committed in the County Tipperary. The prisoners were brought down by special train from Dublin, and were treated with the greatest possible consideration. They were allowed five clear days to prepare for their 'defence, and to each of them the court assigned a solicitor and two counsel. The judges were the two chiefs, Blackburne and Doherty, with Mr. Justice Moore. The Courthouse was crowded to excess, many strangers being present from various parts of the country and from England. Mr. Smith O'Brien, who was dressed in black, and appeared in perfect health and cheerful spirits, was cordially greeted by his friends, among whom were his two brothers, Sir Lucius O'Brien, Bart., and the Rev. Mr. O'Brien. He was defended by Mr. Whiteside and Sir Colman O'Loghlen, Bart. The trial of the chief prisoner lasted nine days. The jury brought in a verdict of guilty, but unanimously and strongly prayed that his life might be spared. It was generally understood that this recommendation would be acted upon, especially as - the insurgents had killed none of the Queen's subjects, and their leader had done all in his power to dissuade them from the perpetration of crime. McManus and Meagher were next tried, and also found guilty, with a similar recommendation to mercy. When they were asked why sentence of death should not be passed upon them, Smith O'Brien answered that he was perfectly satisfied with the Consciousness of having performed his duty to his country, and that he had done only what, in his opinion, it was the duty of every Irishman to have done. " And now," he said, " I am prepared to abide the consequence of having performed my duty to my native land. Proceed with your sentence." Meagher said that the sentence would be remembered by his countrymen as the solemn attestation of his rectitude and truth. With his country he left his memory, his sentiments, his acts, proudly feeling that they required no vindication from him. " On this spot," he said, "where the shadows of death surround me, and from which I see my early grave, in an unconsecrated soil, is ready to receive me - even here the hope which beckoned me on to embark on the perilous sea upon which I have been wrecked, still consoles, animates, enraptures me. I do not despair of my old country; I do not despair of her peace, her liberty, her glory. To lift up this isle, to make her a benefactor to humanity, instead of being what she is - the meanest beggar in the world - to restore her ancient constitution and her native powers - this has been my ambition and this has been my crime. Judged thus, the treason of which I have been convicted loses all guilt, has been sanctified as a duty, and will be ennobled as a sacrifice. To my country I offer the only sacrifice I can now give - the life of a young heart, and with it the hopes, the honours, the endearments of a happy and honourable home. I reverence then, my lords, the sentence that the law directs, and I shall be prepared to hear it, and I trust, to meet its execution, and to appear with a light heart before a higher tribunal." McManus said: - " Standing in this dock, and about to ascend the scaffold, it may be to-morrow, I wish to put this on record, that in no part of my proceedings have I been actuated by animosity against Englishmen, among whom I have spent some of the happiest and most prosperous days of my life. In nothing I have done have I been influenced by enmity to Englishmen individually, whatever I may have felt of the injustice of English rule in this island. It is not for having loved England less, but for having loved Ireland more, that I now stand before you."

This no doubt would have been very noble language if there had been a certainty or even a likelihood that the sentence of death would be executed, and that the convicts would be " hanged, drawn, and quartered," in the barbarous manner of past times; but as no one expected this, there was perhaps a touch of the melodramatic in the tone of defiance adopted by the prisoners. The Government acted towards them with the greatest forbearance and humanity. They brought a writ of error before the House of Lords on account of objections to the jury panel; but the sentence of the Court was confirmed. The sentence of death was commuted to transportation for life; but they protested against this, and insisted on their legal right to be either hanged or set free, in consequence of which an act was passed quickly through Parliament to remove all doubt about the right of the Crown to commute the sentence. The convicts were sent to Van Diemen's Land, where they were allowed to go about freely, on their parole. Meagher and McManus ultimately escaped to America, and Smith O'Brien after come years obtained a free pardon, and was permitted to return home to his family, but without feeling the least gratitude to the Government, or losing the conviction that he had only done his duty to his country. Mr. Gavan Duffy was tried for high treason in Dublin, in February, 1849: the jury disagreed, and were discharged. He was again tried in April following, when the same thing occurred, and Mr. Duffy gave security to appear again, if required, himself, in £1,000. Thus ended the State prosecutions connected with the last attempt made by the Irish to overthrow the dominion of England in that country.

It was not to be expected that the difficulties of Ireland would have passed away with the paroxysm of the crisis through which that nation had been working into a better state of existence. The social evils of that country were too deep-rooted and too extensive to be got rid of suddenly. The political disturbances above recorded, coming immediately after the famine, tended to retard the process of recovery. Another failure of the potato crop caused severe distress in some parts of the country, while in the poorer districts the pressure upon the rates had a crushing effect upon the owners of land, which was, perhaps, in the majority of cases, heavily encumbered. This led to the passing of a measure for the establishment of a " rate in aid," in the session of 1849, by which the burden of supporting the poor was more equally divided, and a portion of it placed upon the shoulders most able to bear it. In anticipation of this rate, Sir Charles Wood proposed an advance of £100,000 to meet the existing pressure. The proposed "rate in aid" was sixpence in the pound, to be levied in every union in Ireland, towards a general fund for the relief of the poor, and this was connected with a provision that the maximum rate should not exceed five shillings in the pound in any electoral division. The proposition of the Government, with the exception of the maximum rate clause, was agreed to after a good deal of discussion and various amendments. In the House of Lords the bill was carried with difficulty, after much discussion and the moving of various amendments.

But at length the Legislature adopted a measure which went to the root of one of the greatest evils that had afflicted Ireland. This was a bill for facilitating the transfer of encumbered estates, which was passed into law, and is generally known as the Encumbered Estates Act. It was introduced by the Solicitor-General, Sir Samuel Bomilly, on the 26th of April. Nothing could be more unsatisfactory than the state of landed property in that country. Many of the estates had been in Chancery for a long series of years, under the management of receivers, and periodically let at rack- rents. Many others which were not in Chancery were so heavily mortgaged that the owners were merely nominal. Others again were so tied up by family settlements, or held by such defective titles, that they could not be transferred. Consequently, a great portion of the landed property of the country was in such a condition that capital could not be invested in it, or expended on it. The course of proceeding in Chancery was so slow, so expensive, so ruinous, and the court was so apparently incapable of reform, that nothing could be expected from that quarter. The Government, therefore, proposed to establish a commission, invested with all the powers of that court, and capable of exercising those powers in a summary manner, without delay and without expense, so that an encumbered estate could be at once sold, either wholly or in part, and a parliamentary title given, which should be good against all the world. This important measure met with general approval in both houses. Indeed it was hailed with satisfaction by all classes of the community, with the exception of a portion of the Irish landed gentry. There were three commissioners appointed, lawyers of eminence and experience in connection with land. By a subsequent enactment in 1858, it was regulated as a permanent institution, under the title of the Landed Estates Court; the three commissioners were styled judges, ranking with the judges of the Law Courts. The number of petitions or applications for sale made to this court from the 17th of October, 1849, to the 1st of August, 1850, was 1,085, and of this number those by owners amounted to 177 - nearly one-sixth of the whole. The rental of the estates thus sought to be sold by the nominal proprietors, anxious to be relieved of their burdens, was £195,000 per annum, and the encumbrances affecting them amounted to no less than £3,260,000. The rental of the estates included in 1,085 applications, made by others not owners, amounted to £655,470 per annum, and the debt upon these amounted to the enormous sum of £12,400,348. One of the estates brought before the court had been in Chancery for seventy years, the original bill having been filed by Lord Mansfield in 1781. The estates were broken up into parcels for the convenience of purchasers, many of whom were the occupying tenants, and the great majority were Irishmen. Generally the properties brought their full value, estimated by the poor-law valuation, not by the rack rents which were set down in the agents' books, but never recovered. The amount of capital that lay dormant in Ireland, waiting for investment in land, may be inferred from the fact that in nine years - from 1849 to 1858 - the sum of twenty-two millions sterling was paid for 2,380 estates. The court has been steadily pursuing its work ever since, though not with so much rapidity as in the earlier years of its existence. One of its efforts has been to urge on the work of emigration, by the eviction of tenants without the means of paying their rents. Men of capital looked for a fair per-centage for their investments. Many of them were merchants and solicitors, without any of the attachments that subsisted between the old race of landlords and their tenants, and they naturally dealt with land as they did with other matters - in a commercial spirit.

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Mr. Meagher
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Sackville street, rebellion
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William Smith OBrien
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