The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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CHAPTER XVIII.

THE "UNITED IRISHMAN" NEWSPAPER—NATURE OF THE ENTERPRISE—EFFECT OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION OF 1848—SITUATION OF THE GOVERNMENT—EXAMPLES.

THE enterprise to which the conductors of the United Irishman had committed themselves and their fortunes, may well be deemed hazardous and even desperate. No one could more fully appreciate its perils than they who undertook it. To rouse to armed resistance a poor and carefully disarmed people, whose country was occupied at every point by a numerous army, and whose "upper classes" were generally altogether devoted to British rule,—not for love of British rule, indeed, but for fear of their own countrymen,—and to attempt this in open day, and in defiance of the well-understood principle and practice of Irish law-courts, all in the full power and possession of the enemy,—was an undertaking which perhaps could end only in one way. But what then? Ireland was our country. The Irish race was our flesh and blood. The alternative was, either to see a foreign enemy scourge our people from the face of their own land, by famine and pestilence, "law," political economy, and red tape, or to set our backs to the wall and fight to the death.

As to our slender chances of success, they consisted mainly in this: The leading members of the Whig Administration, then in power, had uniformly, and with apparent sincerity, protested against the practice of packing juries in Ireland: and we were well aware that it would be with extreme reluctance they would prosecute the United Irishman, seeing they could hope for nothing but defeat if they gave a fair trial. Then if, through irresolution, or regard for "consistency,"—it would be too strong to say conscience,—they should forbear to prosecute for even a few months, until another harvest should be ripe and gathered, we made no doubt that we could in that time have the people as ripe as the harvest.

We knew, indeed, that they were Whigs, "Liberals," and therefore treacherous as the wind, and false as the Father of ...continue reading »

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Page 160

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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