The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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horses and steam, and all the modern agricultural improvements was what alone would enable Irish agriculturists to compete with all mankind.

The second law would drive the survivors of the ejected people (those who did not die of hunger), into the poor-houses or to America; because being bound to be at home after sunset, and having neither house nor home, they would be all in the absolute power of the police, and in continual peril of transportation to the penal colonies.

By another Act of this Parliament, the police force was increased, and taken more immediately into the service of the Crown; the Irish county cess was relieved from their pay; and they became in all senses a portion of the regular army. They amounted to 12,000 chosen men, well armed and drilled.

That readers may understand better the nature and duties of this force, I shall give a few sentences out of a manual published in this same year, 1846, by David Duff, Esq., an active police magistrate. It is entitled "The Constable's Guide:"

"The great point towards efficiency, is, that every man should know his duty and do it, and should have a thorough and perfect knowledge of the neighbourhood of his station; and men should make themselves not only acquainted with roads and passes, but the characters of all, which, with a little trouble, could be easily accomplished. A policeman cannot be considered perfect in his civil duty as a constable, who could not, when required, march direct to any house at night.

"Independent of regular night patrols, whose hours shall vary, men should by day take post on hill commanding the houses of persons having registered arms, or supposed to be obnoxious. The men so posted will, if possible, be within view of other parties, so as to co-operate in pursuit of offenders.

"Patrols hanging about ditches, plantations, and, above all, visiting the houses of suspicious characters, are most essential.

"The telescope to be taken always on day patrol, and rockets and blue lights used, as pointed out in the confidential memorandum."

The confidential memorandum I have not been privileged to see; but this will give an idea of the Irish police, and the British method of relieving a famine. The police were always at the command of Sheriffs for executing ejectments; and if they were not in sufficient force, troops of the line could be had from the nearest garrison. No wonder that the London Times, within less than three years after, was enabled to sayŚ"Law has ridden roughshod through Ireland: it has been taught with bayonets, and interpreted with ruin. Townships ...continue reading »

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Page 101

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel