The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

« previous page | book contents | start of this chapter | next page »

land as the ruler and disposer and owner of all things Irish, that we absolutely scarce know our own plunder when the plunderers send a small pittance of it back to us in the form of alms. And let us be just; if we, in the depth of our distress, in the warmth of our gratitude, are almost forced to forget out of what funds these English alms are drawn, can we wonder if Englishmen forget it too, or even if they never knew it?—simple, exemplary country clergyman, benevolent women, ever prompt to do good; honest, industrious tradesmen, who have learned their own handicraft, and little else,—can we believe that these people so much as know how their Government cared for them in times long past, at our expense; how provision was made to bring them over the rental of Ireland, to flow through the channels of English trade, enriching everybody as it passed; how Irish manufacturers were broken down by systematic laws, in order that Englishmen might weave our wool into cloth, might clothe us from head to foot, yes, to the very buttons, in fabrics of their making, and keep us raising food wherewithal to pay them? Do you imagine our kind benefactors knew, or thought of all this? No: let it not be supposed that I mean to derogate from their merits, or to limit our thanks, when I tell them that, whether they know it or not, they are living upon Irish plunder, that, although the loss of one crop be a visitation from Heaven, Irish famine is a visitation from England—that the reason why we want relief, and they can give it, is just that our substance has been carried away, and that they have it. For every well-paid tradesman of Birmingham and Leeds there is a broken tradesman pining in the garrets of Dublin, or begging his bread in the streets of Cork. The well-fed labourer who sits down to his dinner in England never thinks that he is devouring whole families in Ireland. Ay, the very charitable spinster, annuitant or fundholder, who hastens to send her mite to Ireland, little dreams, as she draws her quarter's dividend, that she is drawing the marrow from the bones of starving wretches in Kerry or Donegal. Hereafter, if Englishmen desire to benefit Ireland, let them know that the greatest charity they can do us, is to make their Government take its hand out of our pockets—its harpy claws off our tables. Let them compel it to draw off its commissioners, and its tens of thousands of gentlemanly officials, who swarm over the land, and eat up every green thing. Finally, let them make it restore that protecting legislature out of which it foully and fraudulently swindled us for their advantage. Let them do that, and we shall not need their alms for the future. But, my friends, you cannot expect that Englishmen will do all that for us. We must ourselves rescue our industry and redeem our lives from foreign oppression; we must banish the officials—we, we must Repeal the Union. We must repay their charity by raising ourselves above their charity—repay their charity by refusing them our food, and refusing them our custom—repay their charity by burning everything that comes from England, except coals—repay their charity by enabling ourselves to give them charity when they come to need it (loud cheers)."

I will only add that, during this year, coroners' juries in several counties repeatedly, on inquests over famine-slain corpses, ...continue reading »

« previous page | book contents | start of this chapter | next page »

Page 133

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


Library Ireland Facebook