2 NOVEMBER 1872, Page 17



Si,—Much of your article of the 19th ult. on the state of Italy is applicable to Ireland without the change of a word. In particular districts of Ireland, as of Italy, both witnesses and juries, whether from intimidation or from sympathy, sometimes cannot be got to do their duty ; and the Government, from an exaggerated dread of extra-constitutional measures, looks on and sees the ruffians control the country. The "Westmeath Act," now in force, was a step in the direction of common-sense; but it comes very far behind of what you point out as needed in Italy, and what is cer- tainly needed in the worst parts of Ireland, namely,—to make it a capital crime to belong to a secretsociety that issues senten ces of death, and to suspend trial by jury where juries are intimidated. It is true that the state of Ireland is by no means so bad as it was, but Irish crime is liable to the greatest and strangest fluctuations, and no one knows when it will revive ; though, I ought to add, it appears utterly improbable that Ireland will ever again be so bad as it was a generation ago. The outbreak of crime a few years since that which led to the "Westmeath Act" (which is a kind of local suspension of the Habeas Corpus) was not so bad as the habitual state of the country within living memory. You appear to be under some mistake as to the nature of an Irish Special Commission. It does not supersede trial by jury ; it is only an ordinary criminal assize held at an unusual time.-1