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house ; others, had often received him at their own ; and there they
sat, in eager expectancy to see how he would behave, to criticise his
bearing, to scan his looks through their ^^ lorgnettes, ^^ and note the
accents in which he would speak. A few, indeed, of his more intimate
friends denied themselves the treat such an exhibition promised ; and
it was plain to see how highly they estimated their own forbearance.
Still, Frobisher and some of his set stood beneath the gallery, and
watched the proceedings with interest. *

Some routine business of an uninteresting nature over, the case of
the King versus Eoland Cashel was called, and the governor of the
gaol was ordered to produce the prisoner. A murmur of intense
interest quickly ran through the crowded assembly, and as suddenly
was subdued to a dead silence as the crowd, separating, permitted the
passage of two armed policemen, after whom Cashel walked, followed
by two others. Scarcely had he merged from the dense throng and
taken his place in the dock, when a buzz of astonishment went
round ; for the prisoner, instead of being dressed decorously in black,
as is customar}'', or at least in some costume bespeaking care and re-
spect, was attired in the very suit he wore on the eventful night of
the murder, the torn sleeves and blood-stained patches attracting
every eye around him. He was paler and thinner than his wont ; and
if his countenance was more deeply thoughtful, there was nothing in
it that evinced anxiety, or even expectancy. As he entered the dock,
they who stood nearest to him remarked that a slight flush stole over
his face, and something that seemed painful to his feelings appeared
to work within him. A brief effort overcame this, and he raised his
eyes and carried his looks around the Court with the most perfect
unconcern.

The prisoner was now arraigned, and the clerk proceeded to read
over the indictment ; after which came the solemn question, " How
say you, prisoner, G-uilty or ]N'ot Guilty ?" Either not understand-
ing the " qufcrc " as directly addressed to himself, or conceiving it to
be some formality not requiring an answer, Cashel stood in a calm and
respectful silence for some minutes, when the Judge, in a mild voice,
explained the meaning of the interrogation.

"Not Guilty, my Lord," said Cashel, promptly ; and though the
words were few, and those almost of course on such an occasion, the




Fn on



EOLAND CASHEL. 215

feeling in the Court was manifestly in concurrence witli tlie speaker.
The routine detail of calling over the jury panel involving the privi-
lege of "challenge," it became necessary to explain this to Cashel,
whose ignorance of all legal forms being now so manifest, the Judge
asked who was counsel for the prisoner.
" He has not named any, my Lord."

With patient kindness the Judge turned to the dock, and coun-
selled him, even now, late as it was, to elect some one among the
learned members of the bar, whose guidance would materially serve
his interests, and save him from the many embarrassments his own
unassisted efforts would produce.

" I thank you, my Lord, for your consideration," replied he,
calmly, " but if I be innocent of this crime, I stand in need of no
skill to defend me. If guilty, I do not deserve it."

" Were guilt and innocence always easy of detection," said the
Judge, " your remark might have some show of reason ; but such is
rarely the case ; and once more I would entreat you to entrust your
cause to some one conversant with our forms and acquainted with
ovir duties."

" I am not guilty, my Lord," replied Eoland, boldly, " nor do I
fear that any artifice can make me appear such. I will not have
counsel."

The Attorney- General here in a low voice addressed the Bench,
and suggested that although the prisoner might not himself select a
defender, yet the interests of justice, generally, requiring that the
witnesses should be cross-examined, it would be well if the Court
would appoint some one to that duty.

The Judge repeated the suggestion aloud, adding his perfect con-
currence in its nature, and inviting the learned bar to lend a volun-
teer in the cause ; when a voice called out, " I will willingly accept
the office, my Lord, with your permission."

" Very well, Mr. Clare Jones," replied the Judge ; and that gentle-
man, of whom so long we have lost sight, advanced to the front of
the bar, beside the dock.

Cashel, during this scene, appeared like one totally uninterested in
all that was going forward ; nor did he even turn his head towards
where his self-appointed advocate was standing. As the names of
the jury were called over, Jones closely scrutinised each individual,
keenly inquiring from what part of the county he came — whether he
had resided as a tenant on the Cashel estate — and if he had, on any
occasion, expressed himself strongly on the guilt or innocence of the
accused. To all these details Eoland listened with an interest the
novelty suggested, but, it was plain to see, without any particle of
that feeling which his own position might have called for. The jury
were at length empannelled, and the trial began.



216 IIOLAND CASHEL.

Few, even among the most accomplished weavers of narrative, can
equal the skill with which a clever lawyer details the story of a criminal
trial. The orderly sequence in which the facts occur — the neat equi-
poise in which matters are weighed — the rigid insistance upon some
points, the insinuated probabilities and the likelihood of others — are
all arranged and combined with a masterly power that more dis-
cursive fancies would fail in.

Events and incidents that to common intelligence appear to have
no bearing on the case, arise, like unexpected witnesses, at intervals,
to corroborate this, or to insinuate that. Time, place, distance,
locality, the laws of light and sound, the phenomena of science, are
all'invoked, not with the abstruse pedantry of a bookworm, but with
the ready-witted acuteness of one who has studied mankind in the
parti-coloured page of real life.

To any one unaccustomed to these efforts, the effect produced is
almost miraculous : conviction steals in from so many sources, that
the mind, like a city assaulted on every side, is captured almost at
once. All the force of cause and effect is often imparted to matters
which are merely consecutive ; and it requires patient consideration to
disembarrass a case of much that is merely insinuated, and more that
is actually speculative.

In the present instance everything was circumstantial ; but so
much the more did it impress all who listened, even to him who,
leaning on the rails of the dock, now heard with wonderment how
terribly consistent were all the events which seemed to point him
out as guilty.

After a brief exordium, in which he professed his deep sorrow at
the duty which had devolved on him, and his ardent desire to suffer
nothing to escape him with reference to the prisoner save what the
interests of truth and justice imperatively might call for, the Attor-
ney-General entered upon a narrative of the last day of Mr. Kenny-
feck's life ; detailing with minute precision his departure from Tub-
bermore at an early hour in Mr. Cashel's company, and stating how
something bordering upon altercation between them was overheard
by [the bystanders as they drove away. " The words themselves,
few and unimportant as they might seem," added he, " under com-
mon circumstances, come before us with a terrible significance when
remembered in connexion with the horrible event that followed." He
then traced their course to Drumcoologan, where differences of
opinion, trivial, some might call them, but of importance to call for
weighty consideration here, repeatedly occurred respecting the
tenantry and the management of the estate. These would all be
proved by competent witnesses, he alleged ; and he desired the Jury
to bear in mind that such testimony should be taken as that of men
much more disposed to think and speak well of Mr. Cashel, whose



EOLAND CASHEL. 217

very spendthrift tastes liad the character of virtues in the peasants'
eyes, in contrast with the careful and more scrupulous discretion
practised by " the agent."

" You will be told, Gentlemen of the Jury," continued he, " how,
after a day spent in continued differences of opinion, they separated
at evening ; one, to return to Tubbermore by the road ; the other, by
the less travelled path that led over the mountains. And here it is
worthy of remark that Mr. Cashel, although ignorant of the way, a
stranger, for the first time in his life in the district, positively refuses
all offers of accompaniment, and will not even take a guide to show
him the road. IMr. Kenny feck continues for some time to transact
business with the tenantry, and leaves Drumcoologan, at last, just as
night was closing in. Now, about half-way between the manor-house
of Tubbermore and the village of Drumcoologan, the road has been so
much injured by the passage of a mountain-torrent, that when the
travellers passed in the morning they found themselves obliged to
descend from the carriage and proceed for some distance on foot ; a
precaution that Mr. Kennyfeck was compelled also to take on his
return, ordering the servant to wait for him on the crest of the hill.
That spot he was never destined to reach ! The groom waited long
and anxiously for his coming ; he could not leave his horses to go
back and find out the reasons of his delay — he was alone ; the dis-
tance to Tubbermore was too great to permit of his proceeding thither
to give the alarm ; he waited, therefore, with that anxiety which the
sad condition of our country is but too often calculated to inspire
even among the most courageous : when, at last, footsteps were heard
approaching — he called out aloud his master's name — but, instead of
hearing the well-known voice in answer, he was accosted in Irish by
an old man, who told him, in the forcible accents of his native tongue,
* that a murdered man was lying on the roadside.' The groom at
once hurried back, and at the foot of the ascent discovered the lifeless
but still warm body of his master ; a bullet-wound was found in the
back of the skull, and the marks of some severe blows across the face.
On investigating further, at a little distance off, a pistol was picked
up from a small drain, where it seemed to have been thrown in haste ;
the bore corresponded exactly with the bullet taken from the body ;
but more important still, this pistol appears to be the fellow of another
belonging to Mr. Cashel, and will be identified by a competent wit-
ness as having been his property.

" An interval now occurs, in which a cloud of mystery intervenes ;
and we are unable to follow the steps of the prisoner, of whom nothing
is known, till, on the alarm of the murder reaching Tubbermore, a
rumour runs that footsteps have been heard in Mr. Cashel's apart-
ment, the key of which the owner had taken with him. The report
gains currency rapidly that it is Mr. Cashel himself; and although



218 EOLAND CASHEL.

the servants aver that he never could have traversed the hall and the
staircase unseen by some[^of them, a new discovery appears to explain
the fact. It is this. The ivy which grew on the wall of the house,
and which reached to [.the window of Mr. Cashel's dressing-room, is
found torn down, and indicating the passage of some one by its
branches. On the discovery of this most important circumstance,
the Chief Justice, accompanied by several other gentlemen, proceeded
in a body to the chamber, and demanded admittance. From them
you will hear in detail what took place — the disorder in which they
found the apartment — heaps of papers littered the floor — letters lay
in charred masses upon the hearth — the glass of the window was
broken, and the marks of feet upon the window-siU and the floor
showed that someone had entered by that means. Lastly — and to
this fact you will give your utmost attention — the prisoner himself is
found with his]]clotbes torn in several places ; marks of blood are seen
upon them, and liis wrist'shows a recent wound, from which the blood
flows profusely. Although cautioned by the wise foresight of the
learned judge against any rash attempt at explanation, or any inad-
vertent admission which might act to his prejudice hereafter, he bursts
forth into a violent invective upon the murderer, and suggests that
they should mount their horses at once, and scour the country in
search of him. This counsel being, for obvious reasons, rejected, and
his plan of escape frustrated, he falls into a moody despondency, and
will not speak. Shrouding himself in an aff'ected misanthropy, he
pretends to believe that he is the victim of some deep-planned
treachery — that all these circumstances, whose detail I have given
you, have been the deliberate schemes of his enemies. It is difficult
to accept of this explanation, Gentlemen of the Jury ; and, although
I would be far from diminishing in tlie slightest the grounds of any
valid defence a man so situated may take up, I would caution you
against any rash credulity of vague and unsupported assertions ; or,
at least, to weigh them well against the statements of truth-telling
witnesses. The prisoner is bound to lay before you a narrative of
that day, from the hour of his leaving home, to that of his return ;
— to explain wliy he separated from his companion, and came back
alone by a path he had never travelled before, and at night ; — with
what object he entered his own house by the window — a feat of con-
siderable difficulty and of some danger. His disordered and blood-
stained dress — his wounded hand — the missing pistol — the agitation
of his manocr when discovered amid the charred and torn remains of
letters — all these have to be accounted for. And remember at what
a moment they occurred ! When his house was the scene of festivity
and rejoicing — when above a thousand guests were abandoning them-
selves to the unbridled enjoyment of pleasure — this is the time the
host takes to arrange papers, to destroy letters — to make, in fact,



EOLAND CASHEL. 219

those hurried arrangements that men are driven to on the eve of
either flight or some desperate undertaking. Bear all this in mind,
Gentlemen ; and remember that, to explain these circumstances, the
narrative of the prisoner must be fuU, coherent, and consistent in all
its parts. The Courts of Justice admit of neither reservations nor
mysteries. We are here to investigate the truth, whose cause admits
of no compromise."

The witnesses for the prosecution were now called over and sworn.
The first examined were some of the servants who had overheard the
conversation between Cashel and Kennyfeck on the morning of
leaving Tubbermore. They difiered slightly as to the exact expres-
sions used, but agreed perfectly as to their general import : a fact
which even the cross-examination of Mr. Jones only served to
strengthen. Some peasants of Drumcoologan were next examined,
to show that during the day slight differences were constantly occur-
ring between the parties, and that Cashel had more than once made
use of the expression, " Have your own way now, but ere long I'U
take mine ;" or words very similar.

The old man who discovered the body, and the postilion, were then
questioned as to all the details of the place, the hour, and the fact ;
and then Tom Keane was called for. It was by him the pistol was
picked up from the drain. The air of reluctance with which the
witness ascended the table, and the look of affectionate interest he
bestowed upon the dock, were remarked by the whole assemblage. If
the countenance of the man evinced little of frankness or candour,
the stealthy glance he threw around him as he took his seat showed
that he was not deficient in cunning.

As his examination proceeded, the dogged reluctance of his answers,
the rugged bluntness by which he avoided any clear explanation of
his meaning, were severely commented on by the Attorney- General,
and even called forth the dignified censure of the Bench ; so that the *
impression produced by his evidence was, that he was endeavouring
throughout to screen his landlord from the imputation of a well-
merited guilt.

The cross-examination now opened, but without in any way serving
to shake the material character of the testimony, at the same time that
it placed in a stiU stronger light the attachment of the witness to the
prisoner. Cashel, hitherto inattentive and indifferent to all that was
going forward, became deeply interested as this examination pro-
ceeded ; his features, apathetic and heavy before, grew animated and
eager, and he leaned forward to hear tlie witness with every sign of
anxiety.

The spectators who thronged the Court attributed the prisoner's
eagerness to the important nature of the testimony, and the close re-
ference it bore to the manner of the crime ; they little knew the simple



220 EOLAND CASHEL.

truth, that it was the semblance of affection for him — the pretended
interest in his fate — which touched his lonely heart, and kindled there
a love of life.

** That poor peasant, then," said Eoland to himself, " he, at least,
deems me guiltless. I did not think that there lived one who cared as
much for me !"

With the apparent intention of showing to the Court and Jury
that Keane was not biased towards his former master, Mr. Jones ad-
dressed several questions to hira ; but instead of eliciting the fact,
they called forth from the witness a burst of gratitude and love for
him that actually shook the building by the applause it excited, and
called for the interference of the Bench to repress.

" Tou may go down, Sir," said Jones, with the fretful impatience
of a man worsted in a controversy ; and the witness descended from
the table amid the scarcely suppressed plaudits of the crowd. As he
passed the dock, Cashel leaned forward and extended his hand towards
him. The fellow drew back, and they who were next him perceived
that a sallow sickly colour spread itself over his face, and that his lips
became bloodless.

" Give me your hand, man !" said Cashel.

" Oh, Mr. Cashel ! oh. Sir!" said he, with that whining affectation
of modesty the peasant can so easily assume.

" Give me your hand, I say," said Cashel, firmly. " Its honest
grasp will make me think better of the world than I have done for
many a day."

The fellow made the effort, but with such signs of inward terror
and trepidation that he seemed like one ready to faint ; and when his
cold and nerveless hand quitted Cashel's, it fell powerless to his side.
He moved now quickly forward, and was soon lost to sight in the
dense throng.

The next witnesses examined were the group who, headed by the
Chief Justice, had entered Cashel's room. If they all spoke guardedly,
and with great reserve, as to the manner of the prisoner, and the con-
struction they would feel disposed to put upon the mode in which he
received them, they agreed as to every detail and every word spoken
with an accuracy that profoundly impressed the Jury.

The magistrate, Mr. Goring, as having taken the most active part
in the proceedings, was subjected to a long and searching cross-exami-
nation by Jones ; who appeared to imply that some private source of
dislike to Cashel had been the animating cause of his zeal in this in-
stance.

Although not a single fact arose to give a shade of colour to this
suspicion, the lawyer clang to it with the peculiar pertinacity that
often establishes by persistence when it fails in proof; and so
pointedly and directly at last, that the learned Judge felt bound to




i: an



EOLAND CASnEL. 221

interfere, and observe, that nothing in the testimony of the respected
witness could lay any ground for the insinuation thrown out by the
counsel.

Upon this there ensued one of those sharp altercations between
Bench and Bar which seem the " complement" of every eventful
trial in Ireland ; and which, after a brief contest, usually leave both
the combatants excessively in the wrong.

The present case was no exception to this rule. The Judge was
heated and imperious — the Counsel flippant in all the insolence of
mock respect — and ended by the stereotyped panegyric on the " glo-
rious sanctity that invests the counsel of a defence in a criminal
action — the inviolability of a pledge which no member of the bar
could suffer to be sullied in his person" — and a great many similar
fine things, which, if not " briefed" by the attorney, are generally
paid for by the client ! The skrimmage ended, as it ever does, by a
salute of honour ; in which each, while averring that he was incon-
testably right, bore testimony to the conscientious scruples and de-
licate motives of the other ; and at last they bethought them of the
business for which they were there, and of him whose fate for life
or death was on the issue. The examination of Mr. Goring was
renewed.

" Tou have told us, Sir," said Jones, " that immediately'after the
terrible tidings had reached Tubbermore of Mr. Kennyfeck's death,
suspicion seemed at once to turn on Mr. Cashel. Will you explain
this, or at least let us hear how you can account for a circumstance
so strange?"

" I did not say as much as you have inferred," replied Goring.
" I merely observed that Mr. Cashel's name became most singularly
mixed up with the event, and rumours of a difference between him
and his agent were buzzed about."

" Might not this mention of Mr. Cashel's name have proceeded
from an anxious feeling on the part of his friends to know of his
safety?"

" It might."

" Are you not certain that it was so ?"

"In one instance, certainly. I remember that a gentleman at
once drew our attention to the necessity of seeing after him."

" Who was this gentleman ?"

" Mr. Linton — a near and intimate friend of Mr. Cashel."

" And he suggested that it would be proper to take steps for Mr.
Cashel's safety ?"

"He did so."

" Was anything done in consequence of that advice ?"

"Nothing, I believe. The state of confusion that prevailed — the
terror that pervaded every side — the dreadful scenes enacting around



222 KOLAJfD CASHEL.

US, prevented our following up the matter -with all tlie foresigkt
which might be desired."

" And, in fact, you sought relief from the unsettled distraction of
your thoughts, by fixing the crime upon some one — even though he
should prove, of all assembled there, the least likely ?"

" We did not attach anything to Mr. Cashel's disfavour until we
discovered that he was in his dressing-room, and in the manner
already stated."

'■ But you certainly jumped to your conclusion by a sudden
bound ?"

" It would be fairer to say that our thoughts converged to the
same impression at the same time."

" "Where is this Mr. Linton ? Is he among the list of your wit-
nesses, Mr. Attorney ?"

" No, we have not called him."

" I tliought as much !" said Jones, sneeringly ; " and yet the omis-
sion is singular, of one whose name is so frequently mixed up in these
proceedings. He might prove an inconvenient witness."

A slight murmur here ran through the Court ; and a gentleman,
advancing to the bar, whispered some words to the Attorney- General,
who, rising, said :

"My Lord, lam just this instant informed that Mr. Linton is
dangerously ill of fever at his house near Dublin. My informant
adds, that no hopes are entertained of his recovery."

""Was he indisposed at the period in which my learned friend
drew up this case ? or was there any intention of summoning him
here for examination ?" asked Jones.

" "We did not require Mr. Linton's testimony," replied the At-
torney- Greneral.

" It can scarcely be inferred that we feared it," said a junior bar-
rister, " since the first palpable evidences that implicated the prisoner
were discovered by Mr. Linton : the wadding of the pistol — part of
a 'letter in Mr. Casliel's own handwriting — and the tracks corre-
sponding with his boots."

" This is all most irregular, my Lord," broke in Jones, eagerly.
"Here are statements thrown out in all the loose carelessness of
conversation, totally unsupported by evidence. I submit that it is
impossible to offer a defence to a cause conducted in this manner."

"Ton are quite right, Mr. Jones ; this is not evidence."

" But this is, my Lord !" said the Attorney- General, in a heated
manner ; " and for motives of delicacy we might not have used it, if
not driven to this course by the insinuations of counsel. Here is a
note in pencil, dated from the ' Pass of Enuismore,* and running



Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 24 of 32)