Montreal Daily Star, 18 January 1894, page 6


Fined twenty-five dollars

The sentence in the Nelson Monument Case

The relatives of Henry Mercier, JA Pelland and Paul de Martigny, paid twenty-five dollars per head for the fun these young men enjoyed during their attempt to destroy the Nelson Monument.  The sentence was pronounced in the Court of Queen’s Bench, Judge Dugas making it a lengthy speech from the Bench.  He referred to the delicate position he found himself in and the fearful consequences they had escaped because their dynamite cartridge had not been permitted to explode, and their attempt which had they only calculated the terrible result it might have had, they would never have made, failed.  They might thank their lucky stars that they had not succeeded.  As it was, their act and its very intent were exceedingly serious.  The more so because there were only too many people who, under the pretext of reforming social evils, destroyed not only the property, but the lives of citizens, men who belonged to associations which were a menace to public safety, and against which we must be continually on the defence and who enjoyed just such attempts.  The entire world was shocked when the report of the attempt went abroad, and serious trouble might have been caused had not the Gov-General in his wisdom immediately cabled to London the true state of affairs.  Fortunately our own population was sufficiently peaceful not to take a wrong meaning out of it nor use it as a handle for disturbances.  They reasoned as the accused ought to have reasoned.  What harm had the Nelson Monument done to any one?  Can England be blamed for honoring the memory of their hero?  Their act was most reprehensible, but the Court believed that they had known the full terrible extent of what they were doing they never would have done it.  He had great difficulty in applying the law in this case, which provided for a fine, or imprisonment, or both, at the option of the Court, but he thought that he met the sentiment of the people in general by applying a penalty which would be a lesson to them in the future.  Before rising he referred to a sworn statement made by Gaston Hughes regarding his connection with the affair.  He states positively that his only aim was to prevent the young men from consummating the terrible plans they had made.  Had it not been that his father was out of town and his mother would not believe him, he would never have spoken to the police and only told them with the agreement that his friends should not be arrested, but simply prevented from carrying out their attempt.