ON Monday last an old man, named DANIEL O’CONNELL, was brought up on the charge of having practised a trick very similar to that of the celebrated JOSEPH ADY, of “something to your advantage” notoriety. It appeared from the evidence that the prisoner had been in the habit of sending round for some years and soliciting subscriptions on the promise of being able to put the subscribers in the way of obtaining something for their advantage. By this delusive proceeding he had contrived to practise on the credulity of persons of all classes, and it was shown that he must have received, from first to last, an amount of money that we do not name, lest it should seem incredible. On being asked what he had to say in his defence, he replied, that what he promised was really likely to prove advantageous to the persons who subscribed their money.
The magistrate said, that even if it were, which he very much doubted, there was no proof that the prisoner had any power to give what he undertook to give, for though he had been taking money for doing so during a number of years, he was not now in the slightest degree nearer than he was at first to the fulfillment of his promise.
The defendant declared he was, but a person, named SMITH O’BRIEN, who professed that he had been one of the Irish ADY’s dupes, came forward to contradict him with much earnestness.
It seemed on further investigation that the defendant had been instrumental in proving the right of a large number of persons to Catholic emancipation, and on the strength of his reputation for having done this, he had been ever since doming forward continually with “something to the advantage” of those who were willing to pay him.
The Magistrate said it was a very bad case, and indeed it was melancholy to see a man, who might have become a most useful member of society, reduced to his present degraded condition. It appeared that no sum was too small, no pocket too scantily supplied for him– the prisoner– to dip into. On looking into the nature of the promised advantage, it was found to consist of Repeal, to which, in the first place, the right of O’CONNELL’s victims was very questionable; in the next place the good it might do them was more doubtful still; and in the last place, there was no doubt that O’CONNELL had neither the intention, nor the power to give it them.
The prisoner said he was an old man, and must do something for a livelihood. He had left a profitable business because he thought he could let the Irish people hear of something to their advantage; and it was very hard, after the trouble he had taken, to have his right to be paid for his trouble disputed in this manner.
The magistrate said that whatever trouble might be taken, no man had a right to be paid for merely promising what he could not accomplish, nor indeed for any misrepresentation of any kind. Doubtless, the begging impostor, who stands shivering in the streets on a frosty day, and bares his limbs to excite sympathy, has a harder task than even the lowest labourer, but the fraud and misrepresentation deprive him of all claim for removal or sympathy. He was afraid the case now before him was not unlike the one he had alluded to. The prisoner, O’CONNELL, no doubt, found it troublesome enough to continue his delusions, but this was the natural consequence of having neglected a career of honest industry. In consideration, however, of his age, and some former good conduct, the prisoner might be discharged with a caution.
The Irish ADY immediately retired from the dock, exclaiming, “Hereditary bondsmen, know ye not,” &c., &, and had scarcely got outside the door of the Court before he was at his old tricks, promising every Irishman he met “something to his advantage.”