The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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tempt them to fight for the devil, not to say the Queen): and insane mothers began to eat their young children, who died of famine before them. And still fleets of ships were sailing with every tide, carrying Irish cattle and corn to England. There was also a large importation of grain from England into Ireland, and the speculators and ship-owners had a good time. Much of the grain thus brought to Ireland had been previously exported from Ireland, and came back—laden with merchants' profits and double freights and insurance—to the helpless people who had sowed and reaped it. This is what commerce and free trade did for Ireland in those days.

Two facts, however, are essential to be borne in mind—first, that the net result of all this importation, exportation, and reimportation, (though many a ship-load was carried four times across the Irish Sea, as prices "invited" it), was, that England finally received our harvests to the same amount as before: and second, that she gave Ireland—under free-trade in corn—less for it than ever. In other words, it took more of the Irish produce to buy a piece of cloth from a Leeds manufacturer, or to buy a rent-receipt from an absentee proprietor. They could do without much of the cloth; but as for the rent-receipts, these they must absolutely buy; for the bailiff, with his police, was usually at the door, even before the fields were reaped; and he, and the Poor-rate Collector, and the Additional Poor-rate Collector, and the County-cess Collector, and the Process-server, with decrees, were all to be paid out of the first proceeds. If it took the farmer's whole crop to pay them, which it usually did, he had, at least, a pocketful of receipts, and might see lying in the next harbour the very ship that was to carry his entire harvest and his last cow to England.

What wonder that so many farmers gave up the effort in despair, and sunk to paupers? Many Celts were cleared off this year, and the campaign was, so far, successful. ...continue reading »

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Page 121

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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