wanted advice, but did not want to pay for it.
Once his opinion was sought in a grave crisis. A
landlord in Killowen had enclosed a space (previously
regarded as commonage), building a wall around it. The
people in the district resented what they looked upon as
an invasion of their rights. Charles Russell was consul ted.
He said that the landlord's conduct was unjustifiable.
But the landlord disregarded all remonstrances, declaring
his determination to do what he liked with 'his own.'
One day a large concourse of people assembled in the
neighbourhood of the enclosed commonage. Charles
Russell went to ' look on.' Suddenly the landlord, accom-
panied by his myrmidons, was seen in the distance. The
peasants awaited their arrival on the scene, and then, with
great coolness and deliberation, and without uttering a
word, tumbled the wall to the ground. It was never
Russell did not wish to be a solicitor. From the begin-
ning his desire was to go to the Bar. Soon after the
lecture at the Newry Institute the Rev. Daniel Bagot,
LORD RUSSELL OF KILLOWEN [1851-2
Protestant Dean of Dromore (who was present), wrote to
him, urging him to read for the Bar. This letter, and an
interview with the Dean, roused into activity the idea
which had already been slumbering in his mind. But his
mother and step-brother discouraged his youthful ambi-
tion. They were cautious. The Bar was risky : the
other branch of the profession was safe. Such was their
view, and Russell, yielding to their wishes, worked out
his apprenticeship. But he never abandoned the idea of
going to the Bar. He bided his time. In later years he
would say, ' I was always bent on going to the Bar. My
family did not like it. My family ' (laughing) ' did not have
as high an opinion of me as they ought to have had.'
In March 1852 Mr. Denvir died, and in the following
September Charles Russell's articles were transferred
to Alexander O'Rourke of 14 Donegal Street, Belfast.
Then he left Newry, and took up his abode in rooms at
the top of O'Rourke's office. There he worked out the
remaining years of his apprenticeship.
It was during these years that the friendship
destined to last a lifetime between him and the Mul-
holland family sprang up. Dr. Mulholland was a
physician in Belfast. He had married a Miss Coleman.
Her mother and Mrs. Russell were old friends. It was
therefore natural that the young people should quickly
foregather. The Mulholland children were younger
than our hero, the three eldest being Ellen (afterwards
Lady Russell), Rosa (afterwards Lady Gilbert), and
William (now a County Court judge in Staffordshire).
When Charles Russell left Newry to take up his
abode at O'Rourke's office, he found Dr. Mulholland's
house a second home. Lady Gilbert, herself a charming
JET. 19-20] LADY GILBERT
writer of verse and prose, has given us a pleasant
sketch of those old and happy days ;
' My first recollection of Charles Russell is seeing him
walk into the drawing-room of our house in Belfast,
and he comes before me still as I saw him then. His
figure was tall, square-shouldered, and splendidly set up,
the head noble and striking, crowned with a curly crop of
crisp chestnut hair. The brow and eyes were his great
distinction, the whole face square and powerful, the nose
well chiselled, the mouth rather large and full of strength.
The dominating brow was pale as ivory, and the pene-
trating grey eyes were alive with transparent light and
sweetness. Although it was a grave serious face, the
frequent and singularly charming smile was all the more
fascinating when it appeared.
' I was then about eight or nine years old, I think, and
I was sitting on a stool beside my mother, learning to
knit a stocking. He asked me if I would knit him a pair
of stockings. These were the first words I remember
ever hearing him speak. My next particular memory of
him is of learning by heart, at his desire, a piece of poetry,
" The Cross in the Wilderness," by Mrs. Hemans, and
repeating it to him aloud.
' A visit which I paid to Killowen in my eleventh year
is an era in my life. Mrs. Russell came to Belfast one
day, intending to take Ellen away with her ; but, my sister
being with our aunt in Randalstown, I was carried off to
Killowen Point, where the Russells were spending the
summer months. There I made acquaintance with the
first grown-up young people I had ever known, and I
found them delightful. Their simplicity and their high
ideals, their kindness and charity seem to me now, look-
LORD RUSSELL OF KILLOWEN [1852-54
ing back, as most remarkable. Charles paid a flying visit
to Killowen while I was there. I remember walking
with him on the mountain against the breeze, repeating
aloud Davis's poem, " Sweet and Sad," which at his desire
I had learned by heart to "say" to him. He echoed the
words, and I remember the emphasis with which he gave
forth the stanzas :
'Tis sweet to climb the mountain's crest,
And run like deerhound down its breast ;
And sad it is when prison bars
Keep watch between you and the stars.
But 'twere better be
A prisoner for ever
With no destiny
To do or to endeavour
Better life to spend
As martyr or confessor
Than in silence bend
To alien or oppressor !
' The deep feeling in his tones impressed me, and the
meaning of the poem sank deep into my mind.
' One day we went across the lough to old Carlingford
Castle. He was a daring boatman, was not afraid of the
squalls from the mountains, and our lives were sometimes
in his hands. Climbing to the top of the old ruin, we
had our picnic in the grass between the sky and the sea.
Charles lay on his back in the sunshine, with his arm
under his head, reading from old copies of the Nation
newspaper, a bundle of which he had carried up under
his arm. I remember particularly a poem on Davis's death
which he admired greatly. Two lines he repeated again
and again, calling my attention to the beauty of them :
Not even to save the rare cargo of Truth
Would he cast out a part to the storm.
JET. 20-22] A SOLICITOR
1 He was constantly singing snatches of songs and
repeating poetry as he went about, usually with his round
hat on the back of his head, and sometimes a coat thrown
over his shoulder. Everybody admired and loved him,
and I think he everywhere gave an impression of singular
power and striking individuality in a man so young, while
his exceeding simplicity and transparency of character
and his capacity for pure enjoyment attracted the young
and the humble, and banished the slight awe with which
at first his grave brow and penetrating eyes might have
affected them. '
In January 1854 Charles Russell's term of apprentice-
He then took a room opposite O'Rourke's office, and
set up for himself, lodging with a French family named
Badier. Shortly afterwards, however, he changed from
this room to a house at 73 Donegal Street, close to the
Mulhollands, and there it may be said his career as a
solicitor practically began.
LORD RUSSELL OF KILLOWEN [1854
LIFE IN BELFAST
AT the beginning of the year 1854 the leading solicitors
in Belfast who practised in the Police and County Courts
were John Rea and Alexander O'Rourke. Before the
end of the year Charles Russell had entered into sharp
competition with them. John Rea was a man of singular
ability. Acute, witty, eloquent, well grounded in law, and
full of energy and courage, he was already famous in the
province when Russell appeared upon the scene. Soon
both men came to be pitted against each other in cases of
public interest. In those days the war between Orange
and Green was waged as fiercely as ever ; and the
battles in the field were followed by the battles in the
Courts. Rea held a general retainer for the Orangemen,
Russell a general retainer for the Catholics. Russell
threw himself into these cases con amore. He fought not
merely as an advocate, but as an Irishman and a Catholic,
warmly sympathising with the masses of his fellow-
countrymen, and strongly resenting the wrongs and
insults to which they were subjected.
Sometimes he fought without a fee. When his
clients could pay, well and good. When they could not,
he gave his services for nothing. People will still tell
you in Belfast how Charles Russell used to drive to and
JEr. 22] CUSHENDALL
fro' Cushendall, during the years '54, '55, and '56,10 defend
the Catholic prisoners charged with assaults on Protest-
ant ' missionaries.' The story of these Cushendall cases
is worth telling. They gave Russell his first chance.
Through them he leaped at a bound into notoriety in
Cushendall is a small village, some thirty-six miles
north-east of Belfast, in the glens of Antrim. There,
fifty years ago, a little community of peasants dwelt in
peace. They knew nothing of the great world outside
cared nothing about it. Simple, industrious, poor, they
toiled for a bare subsistence and were content. Devout
Catholics, honest citizens ; kindly, warm-hearted, law-
abiding, they went their way and gave offence to none.
The handful of Protestants who lived in their midst found
them courteous, good-natured, neighbourly. They
interfered with no man's religion ; they practised their
own ; and so it came to pass that while the storm of
sectarian strife raged outside, there was peace in the little
village in the glens of Antrim.
Such was the state of things in Cushendall when, in
1854, a horde of Protestant proselytisers were poured into
the district by the Irish Church Missionary Society, under
the patronage of an Orange parson. These proselytisers
at first showed some skill and tact. They had the
Scriptures translated into Irish and circulated among
the people. The people read the books with avidity.
Anything coming to them in the garb of their native
language was welcome ; even the parish priest did not
object. But the proselytisers gradually found that the
reading of the Scriptures in Irish made no converts.
Then they resolved to take more strenuous measures.
LORD RUSSELL OF KILLOWEN [1854
They circulated tracts, denouncing the Catholic religion,
ridiculing the doctrines of the Church, attacking the
priests. Then, in an instant, the heather was on fire, and
the little population rose to a man against the intruders.
On November 20, one of these firebrands, Campbell by
name, addressed an excited crowd, singling out for special
animadversion the devotion of Catholics to the Blessed
Virgin. A woman in the crowd Sarah Murray seized
a pail of water and flung the contents in his face, extin-
guishing him on the spot. He brought her and other
' rioters ' before the magistrates, and Charles Russell
came from Belfast to defend them. The trial took place
at Cushendall on December 22, 1854. In the conduct
of the case Russell showed the skill in cross-examination
which afterwards distinguished him, and made a speech
which is, I think, in its way, a gem. He extracted from
the witnesses the admission that there had been absolute
tranquillity until the arrival of the ' missionaries.'
Campbell was called and gave his evidence like a
martyr. Russell turned him inside out. Campbell
complained, ' There was a man who was conspicuous '
Russell : ' Well, Sarah Murray was evidently not the
man, and it is Sarah Murray who is on her trial.'
This sally caused a burst of laughter, at which the pro-
secuting police constable cried out, ' Any man laughing
will be taken up ' an extraordinary threat, it must be
confessed, in an Irish Court of Justice.
Russell then had a passage of arms with the Bench.
Russell (to Campbell) : ' Who sent you to Antrim ? '
Mr. Crommelin (Chairman) : ' I will not allow the
Russell : ' Really, your Worship, if I am not allowed
JET. 22] CUSHENDALL
to cross-examine the witness in my own way, it is no
use going on with the case. This is a broad issue, and
you will by and by see the object of my questions,
though I do not consider it my duty to tell you that
Mr. Crommelin : ' I cannot allow anything beside the
Russell: ' If you will allow me to go on my own way
it will shorten the case.'
Mr. Crommelin : ' We cannot listen to irrelevant
Russell'. 'What may appear to you now irrelevant
matter may turn out very relevant by and by. You
must be aware that in the higher Courts the fullest lati-
tude is allowed to an advocate in cross-examination, as
long as his questions are not immoral or improper, the
judge naturally supposing that counsel has an urgent
motive for asking such questions.'
Mr. Crommelin : ' I know such things are done, but I
will not allow it.'
Russell: 'Nevertheless, a tolerably wise and able
judge Mr. Justice Blackburn thinks differently.'
Russell then opened the defence. As this was the
first speech which he made in any cause of public in-
terest, I shall set it out in full :
Your Worship, in this case I must trouble you with
a few observations, which will save time, as they will
apply to all the other cases. And I beg at the outset
to thank you for the courtesy you have shown me. The
occurrence you have to deal with is a very trifling one
indeed the only question being, did the woman throw
a pail of water over this man's body ? Such is the
LORD RUSSELL OF KILLOWEN [1854
nominal issue ; but the principle involved in the case is
so important to the peace of the district that the defend-
ants have thought right to go to the expense of bringing
a lawyer down from Belfast, and two of the leading
journals of Ireland have sent down their reporters to
note the proceedings.
Now I do say that it is lamentable that a district, which
for twenty or thirty years has maintained a high character
for quiet and peaceful conduct, should be made the scene
of riot for any cause whatever. And if I show you that
the cause of this disturbance is the distribution of these
offensive tracts, then, I think, you have an imperative
duty to perform in discountenancing a system which
would change the character of this district from peaceable
to the reverse. Now, you, gentlemen, know the district
well, and you know that the majority of the people are
of the Catholic religion that they have been kindly
treated by their Protestant neighbours, to whom they
never did any injury and that they have always respected
your jurisdiction and the administration of the law. That
was always the case until these missionaries, by a system
of conduct most deserving of censure, have sown the seeds
of discord here, the fruits of which are these trials, with
perhaps still worse fruit to come.
Now I respect sincerely any body of men who, hold-
ing certain tenets, disseminate them honestly ; but you
will agree with me that the honest way to do so is, not
to thrust into the hands of humble people, free from crime,
illiterate but of strong faith and opinions, hundreds and
thousands of these tracts ridiculing the things they hold
sacred. I am aware that you differ in religious faith from
these humble people ; but I know that you do not the
less respect their opinions and feelings, as long as they
are obedient to the laws. And now, who would think
that this moment, when grinding taxes oppress the country,
when armies are being raised of men of all creeds to
fight for a common cause, would be chosen for scattering
JET. 22] CUSHENDALL
the elements of discord among the people ? And will you
countenance, at such a crisis, the system which thus sows
discord amongst us, and makes enemies of those who should
be friends ? Your Worships have noticed in the papers,
the other day, when Mr. Hamilton in Parliament com-
plained that Bible-readers were not allowed to go about
among the soldiers at Scutari, Mr. Sidney Herbert, the
Secretary-at-War, replied that the Government had liber-
ally provided and paid proper ministers for the religious
instruction of the various soldiers of different creeds, but
they could not allow unlicensed persons to go into the
barracks or camp and excite religious discord amongst
the men. Now, your Worships know that the Protestant > /
religion is the established religion of trrercountry, though
the majority of the people hold a different faith. It is a
religion for whose ministers I and the poor are obliged to
pay as well as you who profess it. The Government has
established this religion, and paid officers (to use the word
not disrespectfully) to carry it out bishops, rectors, and
curates let these men discharge the functions for which
they are paid, and there will be no need for strolling
There once lived in this parish a Protestant clergy-
man, the Rev. Mr. Falloon, who was respected by
all creeds and classes wherever he was known. In his
time similar occurrences took place to those now before
us. The Campbells and Quinns of that day were sent
down here and produced like results. But what did that
wise and good clergyman do ? He said, ' I must put an
end to this. If these men are needed here in my parish,
then I must have been neglecting my duty ; if I have
done my duty, then there is no need of them, and I
will dismiss them.' He did so ; and the result was that
the people lived peacefully together, following the
duties of their religion, and discharging faithfully all their
social obligations. And what did Lord O'Neill say of this
district ? That during long years of experience as a grand
LORD RUSSELL OF KILLOWEN [1854
juror he found that it was always more free from crime than
any other part of the country. Such is the character
this district has maintained until the Campbells and
Quinns came to mar its good name. I do not offer to
excuse the act of which this man complains. If it was
done, it was wrong.
There is one thing I regret to have to state in this
matter. I understand that the Rev. Mr. Dunseath is
the getter-up of this affair. I am told that it is he who
has brought the Bible-readers here and furnished them
with these tracts. I would ask that reverend gentleman
through you, does he, a minister, paid out of the people's
pockets, think it fair and honourable to send firebrands
among them to disturb the district, and excite enmity and
discord among the population ? What does he expect to
gain from a system which can do no good to his cause or
creed, and which the majority of the respectable Pro-
testants discountenance ? I believe the majority of the
respectable Protestant gentry have felt that hitherto
peace and good- will prevailed among all creeds and
classes in the district, and that the natural result of this
new system is disturbance and breach of the law. In this
case before you I will prove that much provocation was
given before the woman wrongly threw the water upon
Campbell ; but the broad issue in this case, after all, is
really whether you will allow the poor people of this
district to be annoyed, and their religious feelings insulted,
when leading quiet and peaceable lives, and following
their duties as Christians ? Now look at the tracts which
these Bible-readers have been distributing. They do
not contain extracts from the Bible, but are filled with in"'
suits against the faith of the majority of the people and
libels on their priests.
Now, suppose this was an exclusively Protestant
district, and that Catholic priests sent parties here to
scatter these tracts, defame the ministers, and insult the
religious feelings of the people if they acted thus, and
JEr. 22] CUSHENDALL
angered and exasperated an humble, illiterate Protestant
population would you not feel it your duty to reprehend
such conduct, and denounce the system as opposed to
the peace and well-being of the country ? But here is
an almost exclusively Catholic district ; and these Pro-
testant tract distributors are sent among the people for
exactly such a purpose, and will you not discountenance
such a system which sets neighbour against neighbour
and disgraces the character of the country ? Here is
one of these tracts containing a paltry story from an
American newspaper, the object of which is to excite
disrespect of the priests. Here is another with some-
thing about King Solomon and his mother, containing
offensive and disrespectful language against the Blessed
Virgin whom the Catholic people reverence as the
Mother of God. This pamphlet contains statements
respecting the reverence for the Blessed Virgin and the
Cross, describing it as idolatrous worship which educated
Protestants must know to be a falsehood. Now, if such
tracts, ridiculing their religious tenets, were circulated
among poor Protestants, would it not embitter their
feelings ? And think you it can be otherwise with the
humble Catholics? When such disgraceful things as
these tracts are scattered, perhaps, in millions through
the country, do you wonder that discord and bitterness
of feeling prevail? Here is another placard offering
sixteen hundred pounds for various things, every para-
graph containing an insult to the people's religious
feelings, and at the bottom of all is appended the hypo-
critical remark that this tract is offered ' in all kindness
of spirit to Roman Catholics.' And here is what the
poor people well know to be a libellous statement, that
the Bible is concealed and burned by the priests. Now,
is it not almost absurd to offer any apology for the
conduct of an excitable people whose feelings are thus
insulted? But what are the facts of this case? Why, it
is confessed in the evidence, that, though this man has
LORD RUSSELL OF KILLOWEN [1855
been moving about the country thus engaged, and there
was at one time a large crowd around him, no stone was
thrown, and he never received hurt or injury. The case
is most trivial at worst demanding only a nominal
penalty and I call on you to discountenance the system
from which it has arisen, and express your abhorrence
of that system as calculated not to promote religion, but
to excite violence and disorder.
Sarah Murray was convicted and fined five shillings ;
but a number of other cases arising out of the operations
of the missionaries were dismissed.
In 1855 there were fresh ' disturbances,' fresh perse-
cutions, and Russell again appeared upon the scene. I
shall give some extracts from his cross-examination
in these cases to show that from the outset he was a
proficient in the art. Mr. Campbell was once more the
hero and martyr of the hour. On July 5 the date
is important he and another luminary of the ' Irish '
Church Society, Mr. McLaverty, were spreading the
light of the Gospel near the Catholic chapel at Water-
foot, when the people coming from Mass fell on them,
and one, John Walsh, struck Campbell with a stone.
This in brief was the case for the prosecution. Campbell
mounted the table, and Russell took him in hand.
Russell : ' Have we not met before ? '
Witness : ' We may.'
Russell : 'But have we not ? '
Witness : 'We might.'
Russell: ' Now, Mr. Campbell, you are a very con-
scientious gentleman, and, on the virtue of your solemn
oath, do you think that an honest answer ? Did we not
meet before in this very place ? '
JET. 23] CUSHENDALL
Witness : ' I won't swear whether I did or not.'
Russell: 'What! do you look back on the occasion
with horror ? '
Witness : ' I won't swear.'
Russell : ' And have you suffered no martyrdom ? '
Witness : ' I was struck with a stone.'
Russell: 'Have you not been distributing your
tracts ? '
Witness : ' I may.'
Russell: ' Are you not aware that the vast majority
of the people are opposed to your opinions if you have
any opinions at all ? '
Witness : ' They are Roman Catholics.'
Russell: ' Did you not know that on that particular
morning the Catholics had religious worship at Water-
Witness : ' I believe so.'
Russell : ' And you went to that place knowing that
the Catholics look on you with no eye of favour ? '
Witness : ' There are some of them that don't care
much for me.'
Russell : ' On your oath, does any single one of them
care for you ? '
Witness : ' I won't swear.'
Russell: ' You say a woman shouted what did she
shout ? '
Witness : ' " The Soupers are coming."
Russell: ' Will you swear that she did not sing " The
Campbells are coming " ?'
Witness : ' I did not hear her.'
Russell: 'Will you swear now positively that John
Walsh was there ? '
LORD RUSSELL OF KILLOWEN [1855
Witness : 'I will not, but to the best of my belief.'
Russell'. ' How was the man dressed ? '
Witness : ' He wore a black hat, and I think a black
cravat. I don't remember the colour of his coat, but I am