The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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Minister, if any of these two hundred and seventy commit a robbery on the highway—if any of them murder the bailiff, who (in exercise of his duty) flung out their naked children to perish in the winter's sleet—if any of them, maddened by wolfish famine, break into a dwelling-house, and forcibly take food to keep body and soul together, or arms for vengeance—what will you do? How will you treat that district? Will you indeed proclaim it? Will you mulct the householders (not yet ejected) in a heavy fine to compound for the crimes of those miserable outcasts, to afford food and shelter to whom they wrong their own children in this hard season? Besides sharing with those wretches his last potato, is the poor cottier to be told that he is to pay for policeman to watch them day and night—that he is to make atonement in money (though his spade and poor bedding should be auctioned to make it up) for any outrage that may be done in the neighbourhood?—but that these GERRARDS are not to pay one farthing for all this—for, perhaps, their property is encumbered, and, it may be, they find it hard enough to pay their interest, and keep up such establishments in town and country as befit their rank? And will you, indeed, issue your commands that those houseless and famishing two hundred and seventy—after their roof-trees are torn down, and the ploughshare is run through the foundations of their miserable hovels—are to be at home from sunset to sunrise?—that if found straying, the gaols and the penal colonies are ready for their reception?"

It was precisely with a view to meet such cases that the Coercion Bill had been devised; and were not our representatives well justified in resisting such a measure, courteously or otherwise? The English Whigs, and, at length, the indignant Protectionists, too, joined the Repealers in this resistance—not to spare Ireland, but to defeat Sir Robert Peel, and get into his place. And they did defeat Sir Robert Peel, and get into his place. Whereupon, it was not long before Lord John Russell and his Whigs devised a new and more murderous Coercion Bill for Ireland themselves.

The Nation still remained the most widely circulated and influential journal of the Irish Nationalists, and represented the extreme and most anti-English party. The "Young Ireland party" still stood, and was well known to the great enemy as its most unrelenting opponent. MacNevin and Doheny frequently contributed to the Nation; and the writings of Thomas Devin Reilly, in its columns, were greatly admired. Mr Dillon went for the Winter to Madeira; but our fraternity began now to number among its members Thomas Francis Meagher and Richard O'Gorman, of whom (as they are well known in America), I need not now speak. The English enemy heartily abhorred us, and in the Spring of this year aimed a blow at the Nation Office. It was a new State Prosecution. Mr Duffy was indicted for an article of mine. I undertook to ...continue reading »

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Page 110

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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