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The Fenians

The Illustrated London News, vol. 47, no. 1343, p. 487.

November 18, 1865


Stephens, the Fenian Head Centre in Ireland, has been arrested. He was captured, with Rickham, Duffy, and Brophy, on Saturday morning, in a house which he had taken, under the name of Herbert, in the suburbs of Dublin. When pounced upon by the police they were found to be well supplied with all the necessaries of life. The prisoners were brought up at the police court in the course of the day and remanded, Stephens ostentatiously declaring that he would not employ any attorney in the matter. Stephens and his companions were re-examined on Tuesday and Wednesday. Evidence was given of their connection with the Fenian organisation, and it was shown by documents found in Stephens's house that he had been in communication with the prisoners already committed for trial, through the medium of an attorney named Nolan; and, in fact, was taking a part in the management of their defence. A German, named Scholfield, who had been sent to Dublin by the British Consul in New York, proved that certain documents produced, but not read, were in the handwriting of John O'Mahony, the head of the movement in America. At the conclusion of the evidence the magistrate asked the prisoners if they wished to say anything. Stephens said he did not intend to obtain legal assistance, because in making a plea or defence of any kind he should be recognising British law, and he deliberately and conscientiously repudiated the right or even the existence of British law in Ireland. He defied and despised any punishment that could be inflicted upon him. Brophy said he merely wished to deny a report in the newspapers that he had absconded. The other prisoners intimated that they would say nothing. They were all fully committed for trial at the special commission on the 27th inst.

Geary, the Cork leader, is still at large; and, although some time ago it was reported that he had gone to France, there is a strong suspicion that he has not left Ireland.

Yesterday week the Dublin Court of Common Pleas heard arguments for and against the motion by the Attorney-General that the proceedings against the Lord Lieutenant should be stayed. The argument for the Government was that the action of the Lord Lieutenant was the action of the State, and therefore not to be impeached in the law courts. Judgment was reserved. An episode in the hearing is worth notice. One of the counsel for Luby, the plaintiff, in the course of his speech mentioned with praise the name of Thomas Addis Emmett. The reference was loudly cheered by a part of the audience, whereupon the Chief Justice ordered the gallery in which the noisy ones were to be cleared. On Monday the Judges gave judgment in the case. They decided that no action could be maintained against the Lord Lieutenant in his official capacity, and the writ was ordered to be taken off the file.

Judgment was given in the Dublin Court of Queen's Bench last Saturday, on the application on behalf of the Fenian prisoners, for a rule for a criminal information against Sir J. Gray, M.P, the proprietor of the Freeman. The plaintiffs charged that they had been libelled in the Freeman by the insertion of the reports of their cases at the police court, by leading articles, and by the publication of certain passages in a pastoral letter of Dr. Cullen. The court unanimously granted the conditional order as to the leading articles and the pastoral letter; but refused it in reference to the police-court reports. The Lord Chief Justice, Justice Fitzgerald, and Justice O'Brien held that newspapers were privileged to publish police reports; while Mr. Justice Hayes held they were not, and would have granted a conditional order in reference to the police reports also.

The detectives Hughes and Doyle, who aided in the capture of Stephens and in other Fenian arrests, were shot at, on Sunday evening, while they were entering the police office in Exchange-court, off Dame-street. Hughes was struck by a ball in the shoulder and Doyle was wounded near the spine. The shots were supposed to have been fired from a window of the house formerly occupied by Hopper, the tailor, who is in custody on the charge of Fenianism. It has been decided to arm the division to which Hughes and Doyle belong, the men, it appears, having applied to the Government for revolvers, "for the purpose of protecting themselves against assassination."

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