Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/215

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
177
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

moor, still wore the felon's garb and chains. O'Connor Power moved in the House of Commons, on June 5, for an inquiry into the treatment of the political prisoners, and presented a communication from Michael Davitt, who had then been in prison for seven years, detailing some of the hardships which himself and his comrades had endured. McCarthy was then within a year of the release which was to come to him only through the clemency of death. Davitt gave a minute account, as follows, of the indignities and cruelties heaped upon poor Chambers:

Corporal Chambers, for five months during which he was in custody before trial, was treated far worse than a convict. I make every allowance for the prejudice of the members of the court-martial in daily expectation of Fenian disturbances, but having found him guilty of treason, why not shoot him? It would have been mercy itself compared with sending him to herd with the common thief and murderer. Perhaps a living example is required. Therefore, my poor comrades, the military men, were not included in the amnesty five and a half years ago, though the leaders of Fenianism and men who had borne arms against the government in 1867 were. Well, if they are intended as an example to their countrymen in the army, they may also serve as an example to their countrymen out of the army when England wants Irish soldiers again. "Imprisonment for the term of his natural life," signed by her most gracious Majesty. So ran his sentence, and he was removed from the Irish jails, where there is some humanity, to the English jails, where humanity and the Ten Commandments are set aside by the "Abstract of Prison Rules." Those rules, ambiguous and elastic as they are, are stretched and tortured in every way, in order to inflict extra punishments on us, or deprive us of the few privileges granted to the ordinary convict. On the 4th of June, 1868, he was told by the director that the Secretary of State had ordered him to be treated with greater severity than an ordinary prisoner. This order is still in force, although he has several times petitioned the Secretary of State about the injustice of it, and begged for an inquiry. He has always received "no grounds" for an answer. Nor would they produce him before the Inquiry Commission in 1870. Nor is he allowed a visit, although he applies within the rules. The last quibble is that he must give proof that those whom he applies to see him are blood relatives. Not a word about proof is mentioned to the thieves when they ask for a visit. He has very little better fortune with his letters. Thus every possible means are taken to prevent us