The electors of Lisburn have not easily been,able to get a candidate to their mind in room of their deceased Member Sir Horace Seymour. Several persons have been named : one of the last was Admiral Meynell, a former Member ; but he " respectfully declined." At last, Sir James Emerson Tennent has offered himself ; and the Belfast Mercury, acknow-
lodging the difference of his political opinions, says that he will " fill the vacancy," and at least will be as " active and attentive " a representa- tive as any in Ireland.
The action brought by James Birch against Sir William Somerville, to re- cover 70001. for pohtical services rendered to the Irish Government by the plain- tiff as proprietor of a weekly newspaper called the World, was tried in the Dub- lin Court of Queen's Bench, by Lord Chief Justice Blackburn and a Special Jury, on Friday and Saturday last. The interesting evidence in the case was given by the plaintiff himself, and by the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Clarendon. Mr. Whiteside, Q.C., was chief counsel for the plain- tiff; and Mr. Brewster, Q.C., chief counsel for the defendant.
The plaintiff having sworn to conversations and letters with Mr. Corry Connellan, Sir William Somerville, and Mr. Meredith, the result of which was that he devoted his paper the World to the defence of "law and order," —and having admitted payments of several hundred pounds to him by the gentlemen above named, under that agreement,—went on to estimate the value of the services still not paid for, at 65001. He was then cross- examined by Mr. Brewster. It appears that his manner in the witness- box was abject : he held his face so low that the Jury could scarcely hear him.
Plaintiff—" Upon my oath, as an honest man, I think that sum is due to me by Sir William Somerville. I do not charge by the article or by the week, but rather by the year." Mr. Brewster—" What is your charge per annum ? Look up, Sir, if you can look up, and answer me : what do you think would be a proper remu- neration for your services?" Witness—"I think that for the support of such a Government, a very large remuneration should be expected." Mr. Brewster—" Do you mean that for the support of such a bad Govern- ment you should be very well paid ?" Witness—" No, I don't mean that." Mr. Brewster—" Did you think it was a good Government ?" Witness— "No, I looked upon it as rather a mixed Government." Mr. Brewster—" Did you think it was a Government which merited your support ?" Witness—" I did." Mr. Brewster—" Did you think there was any baseness or corruption in supporting that Government ?" Witness—" I did not."
Mr. Brewster—" So far as you supported it, did you consider your support was commendable ?" Witness—" I recollect supporting you at one period ; but as you are a rather unpopular person, I—"
Mr. Brewster—" To be sure ; and were you not paid for it ?" Witness— "No."
Mr. Brewster—" Do you swear that you never asked any distinguished person for payment for your support of me ?" Witness—"I will not." Mr. Brewster—" Did you ever write an article which you did not approve of in your own conscience ?" Witness—" I never sanctioned an article which I did not approve of in my conscience." Mr. Brewster—"Now, tell us how much a year you were to get for what you did ?" Witness—" I have not ascertained the exact amount." Mr. Brewster—" Upon your oath, how much a year ought you to get for your services ?" Witness (after some deliberation)—" I think 5000/. a year would not be too much." (Laughter.) Mr. Brewster—" Well, that is an extremely moderate charge, and I have no doubt that your services were very cheap at such a price. Now, tell me, what was the largest number of copies of the World newspaper you circu- lated at any one time, while you were writing, as you say, for the Govern- ment ?" Witness—" Well, it is not easy to say." Mr. Brewster—" Did you ever circulate 1000 copies ? " Witness—" I did, and more."
Mr. Brewster—" Do you mean to say that you can't go within a hundred or two of your greatest circulation ? " Witness—"I do say it." Mr. Brewster—" Will you swear that you ever circulated 1500 at any one time ?" Witness—" I will not."
Mr. Brewster—" What is the price of your paper ? " Witness—" Sixpence for one copy." Mr. Brewster—" During the time these arrangements were going on with the Government, you acted, I presume, on the sole responsibility of Sir William Somerville ? " Witness—"I carried it on for the Government."
Mr. Brewster—" Did you consider Sir William Somerville as your sole debtor, and the person whomou would be entitled to sue, when you entered into the new arrangement in June 1848 ? " Witness—" Yes." Mr. Brewster—" Let that answer be taken down ; it is very important." Witness—" Oh, I consider that I had a claim on Lord Clarendon also."
Lord Clarendon gave his evidence in a frank unreserved manner. Inter alia, he stated that he wrote to Sir William Somerville, saying that if Mr. Birch, the editor of the World, should call upon him, he had written in de- fence of law and order ; and that if any persons referred to him in England to inquire whether that was the case, he might say that it was so. He also had said that Sir William might give Birch some money. Further examined, for the plaintiff, by Mr. Meagher—" Had Mr. Birch, to your Excellency's knowledge, been supporting the Government before for any considerable time ? " Lord Clarendon—" Supporting the Government ! no, I should say not. I sent for Mr. Birch in consequence of his offers to me to support law and order. He had repeatedly offered to do so during the year 1847, and had sent me his papers, and written me various letters ; which were simply acknowledged. He subsequently, in February, offered to support the cause of law and order, which was certainly then in some danger. I then saw Mr. Birch. I then thought I should have at that time, in re- spect to the public affairs, failed in my duty if I did not accept the offices of any person in support of law and order. I then saw Mr. Birch, and he offered to write in that sense. I told him that he might do so, although I certainly did not expect much to result from his labours. I told him at the same time, I wished for no support to the Government; and that, as far as I myself was concerned, he might abuse me as much as he liked, as it was perfectly indifferent to me." (Laughter.)
Mr. Meagher—" Am I to understand that your Excellency did accept his services on that occasion ?" Lord Clarendon—" Yes, to wnte in defence of law and order."
Mr. Meagher—" Did you see articles in support of law and order in his newspaper afterwards?' Lord Clarendon—" Yes, I did occasionally." Mr. Meagher—" Is it not a fact, that up to January 1851 he continued to publish those articles in defence of law and order ' ?" Lord Clarendon- " Yes. I am not aware that law and order' wanted any defence up to 1851." (Laughter.) Mr. Mmgher—" Well, in defence of the general policy of the Govern- ment ? " Lord Clarendon—" I cannot say that he did but, in fact, I never read his paper at all."
Mr. Meagher—" Did your Excellency make any payment to Mr. Birch for his services in defence of law and order ; and might I ask you what sums ?" Lord Clarendon—" He received sums at various times; I could not exactly name the amount which I paid him. The first time I saw him he asked me for money. I told him there were no funds applicable to such purposes. He then said he did not ask me for it for his own remuneration, but be- cause he should be otherwise unable to procure agents to extend the circu- lation of the paper. I then offered him 100/., if I remember rightly, for it did not make any great impression on me at the time. He said that
would not be sufficient for his purpose ; and I think it was then extended to about 3501. This was in the beginning of February 1848, if I remember correctly." Mr. Meagher—" Did your Excellency know that any further sums of money were paid to Mr. birch in London ? " Lord Clarendon—" Yes." Mr. Meagher—" Is your Excellency aware from what fund it came ? " Lord Clarendon—" From a fund placed at the disposal of Sir William Somer- ville, at my request." Mr. Meagher—" Out of the public funds, was it ? " Lord Clarendon—" I could not say it came out of the public funds. I said it was a fund placed at the disposal of Sir William Somerville at my request." Mr. Meagher—" Allow me to ask your Excellency, whether they were or were not public funds ? " Lord Clarendon—" Part of what Mr. Birch re- ceived was from money applicable to special services, and part was out of any own private pocket. The part which was from the money applicable to special services was advanced at my request and on my own responsibility ; and was repaid by myself very long ago."
Cross-examined by Mr. Brewster—"Is your Excellency aware that alto- gether Mr. Birch got 3700/. ? " Lord Clarendon—" I am., '
Mr. Brewster—" Was every farthing of that money from you ? " Lord Clarendon—" Every farthing.' Mr. Brewster—" And not a farthing of it from Sir William Somerville ? " Lord Clarendon—" Not a farthing."
Mr. Brewster—" The moneys he gave the plaintiff were advanced to him by your Excellency ? " Lord Clarendon—" Entirely so, or at my request, and I was responsible for them."
Mr. Brewster—" I mean that Then, throughout the whole transaction Sir William Somerville acted simply as your agent ? " Lord Clarendon- " Simply as my agent, and solely by my instructions." Mr. Brewster—" Was your first introduction to Mr. Birch by Mr. Birch himself ? " Lord Clarendon—" By Mr. Birch himself. I never heard of him or his paper until he wrote." Mr. Brewster—" You knew nothing about his antecedents, I presume " Lord Clarendon—" Nothing whatever."
Reexamined by Mr. Meagher—" Was the 2000/. already referred to paid in consequence of an agreement ? " Lord Clarendon—" It was." Mr. Meagher—" Is it in writing ? " Lord Clarendon—" It is." Mr. Meagher—" Is that in your possession ? " Lord Clarendon—" Yes, but not actually in my own immediate possession." Mr. Brewster—" Has your Excellency got it in your pocket ? " Lord Clarendon—" No."
Mr. Brewster—" Was that 20001. paid in full liquidation of — ? " Mr. W hiteside—" I object to that question." Chief Justice—"I think, Mr. Brewster, that the purpose for which that money was paid must appear by the document."
In his speech for the defence, Mr. Brewster described the case as one of the most rascally that had ever come into court ; and the plaintiff as a per- son who attempted to entrap persons in authority into writing to him, in order that he might afterwards extort money from them by threats of publication of their private letters. In the pursuit of that course, he had written to Lord Palmerston, to Lord John Russell, and even to the Queen herself. A series of letters written by Birch was read, containing alternate threats and prayers for money, and clearly disproving the case of the plaintiff that there was a continuing contract to pay him. The Jury by their verdict should convict this " literary assassin' of the crime of wilful perjury ; for a number of his letters are totally inconsistent with the idea that he thought that 70001. was due to him. He swears that all the sums were paid by Sir William Somerville ; yet his account was twice sent in to Lord Clarendon, giving Lord Clarendon credit for the very items of those payments. Lastly, and Mr. Brewster put this lastly because he desired first to show fully how this audacious plaintiff had acted—lastly, Lord Claren- don possesses his release of all claims. "To get rid of the man for ever, Lord Clarendon gave him 20001.• and the plaintiff signed a release of all causes of action, dated the 4th November 1850—a release of all causes of action against Lord Clarendon, 'or any other person,' from all claims for and in relation to services rendered, or alleged to be rendered, by James Birch."
Mr. Keogh, Q.C., replied for Birch the plaintiff; and the Lord Chief Justice summed up. The Jury considered for about five minutes, and then gave a vfrdict for the defendant, with sixpence costs.
There has been another agrarian murder of even blacker complexion than that of Mr. Mauleverer or that of Mr. Coulter.
Mr. Thomas Bateson, the brother of Sir Robert Bateson, has been assas- sinated on the public road, and his murderers have escaped. Mr. Bateson was the manager of the,reat estates of Lord Templeton in the county Mo- naghan : he was a man or proverbially kind heart ; he employed an immense number of labourers all the year through ; was a Magistrate and an elected Guardian of the Poor—one of the few Guardians whom they deemed a friend ; but he had lately taken sonic eviction proceedings against dishonest tenants of Lord Templeton. As he was returning home on Thursday sen- night from his model farm to Castleblayney, he was attacked by three men, who lay in wait for him in a hollow of the road near some small plantations which afforded a cover. A little boy named Baillie, aged thirteen, was driving home his father's cows, and saw the onset. A shot was fired ; then three men rushed on Mr. Bateson, and beat him down with pistols, or with bludgeons. Mr. Bateson rose against them three times, but at last fell as if dead ; and the men escaped through the plantations. The Armagh omnibus passed immediately afterwards, and Mr. Bateson was found insensible, but not dead. He lingered till Friday evening, and then expired. His skull had been fractured in many places, and a portion of the brain carried away. Two pistols were picked up near the scene of the attack, both of them clotted with blood, and carrying portions of Mr. Bateson's hair. One had been fired, the other was still loaded, but the cap had been flashed. A large stone covered with blood and hair was also found.
Two persons have been arrested on suspicion.