The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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they would submit to anything rather than fraternize with the injured Catholic Celts. A few landlords and other gentlemen met and formed an "Irish Council;" but these were soon frightened into private life again by certain revolutionary proposals of some members, and especially by the very name of Tenant-Right. At last, about the end of this year, seeing that another season's famine was approaching, and knowing that violent counsels began to prevail amongst the extreme section of the national party, the landlords, in guilty and cowardly rage and fear, called on Parliament for a new Coercion Act.

From this moment, all hope that the landed gentry would stand on the side of Ireland against England, utterly vanished.

In my next chapter, I shall have to tell how this deadly alliance between the landlords and the government brought Irish affairs to a crisis,—how it broke up the "Confederation "—led to an attempt at insurrection—and a series of State trials—and the end of the hopeless struggle against British civilization for that time.

Before going further, however, I shall mention:—First, that by a careful census of the Agricultural produce of Ireland for this year, 1847, made by Captain Larcom, as a Government Commissioner, the total value of that produce was £44,958,120 sterling;which would have amply sustained double the entire people of the island.* This return is given in detail, and agrees generally with another estimate of the same, prepared by John Martin, of Loughorn, in the County Down,—a gentleman whose name will be mentioned again in this narrative. Second: that at least 500,000 human beings perished this year of famine, and of famine typhus : and 200,000 more fled beyond the sea to escape famine and fever. Third: that the loans for relief given to the Public Works and Public Commissariat departments, to be laid out as they should think proper, and to be repaid by rates on Irish property, went in the first place to maintain ten thousand greedy officials;and that the greater part of these funds never reached the people at all, or reached them in such a way as to ruin and exterminate them.

A kind of sacred wrath took possession of a few Irishmen at this period. They could endure the horrible scene no longer, and resolved to cross the path of the British car of conquest, though it should crush them to atoms. ...continue reading »


* I do not possess this Return, as ordered by Parliament to be printed, but take an abstract of it given at the time in the London Standard. In Thom's Official Almanac and Directory, Government has taken care to suppress the statement of the gross amount

The deaths by famine of the year before I set down at 300,000. There is no possibility of ascertaining the numbers; and when the Government Commissioners pretend to do so, they intend deception.

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Page 143

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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