The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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CHAPTER XVII.

DUBLIN DURING THE FAMINE—"YOUNG IRELAND"—ALARM OF THE MONEYED CLASSES—"S. G. O."—SUDDEN MEETING OF PARLIAMENT—NEW COERCION ACT—DIFFERENCES IN THE IRISH CONFEDERATION—BREAK-UP IN THE "NATION" OFFICE—O'BRIEN—THE "UNITED IRISHMAN."

AFTER two years' frightful famine,—and when it was already apparent that the next famine, of 1847-48, would be even more desolating,—it may be imagined that Dublin city would show some effects or symptoms of such a national calamity. Singular to relate, that city had never before been so gay and luxurious; splendid equipages had never before so crowded the streets; and the theatres and concert-rooms had never been filled with such brilliant throngs. In truth, the rural gentry resorted in greater numbers to the metropolis at this time; some to avoid the sight and sound of the misery that surrounded their country-seats, and which British laws almost expressly enacted they should not relieve;—some to get out of reach of an exasperated and houseless peasantry. Any stranger, arriving in those days, guided by judicious friends only through fashionable streets and squares, introduced only to proper circles, would have said that Dublin must be the prosperous capital of some wealthy and happy country.

The band of friends, known to the outside world as "Young Ireland," now all scattered, exiled, or dead, at that time, over and above all the ordinary appliances of pleasure offered by a great city, met weekly at the house of one or the other; and there were nights and suppers of the gods, when the reckless gaiety of Irish temperament bore fullest sway. Like the Florentines in plague-time, they would at least live while it was yet day; and that fiery life, if it must soon burn out, should burn brightly to the last. And here, I desire to say, once for all, that I have never heard or read of, neither do I expect to hear or to read of, any political party so thoroughly pure and disinterested, with aspirations so lofty, and effort and endeavour so single-hearted, as this same "Young Ireland." Those nights, winged with genial wit and cordial friendship, fade now, purple-hued, in the distance, and a veil of blackness is drawn over them: but I avow myself much more proud of my association with ...continue reading »

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Page 151

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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