The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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Lies; but counted somewhat on their cowardice. We had yet to learn that every Englishman, even a Whig, could be brave in such a cause.

Here, I am not solicitous to avoid the appearance of egotism; and seeing the ignominious defeat of all our efforts, it is no great boast, heaven knows, to have had "the carriage of the cause" in those days. But the mere fact is, that the English Government was fully conscious that the enemy they had now to deal with was the United Irishman, and the spirit and purpose which it excited and represented. This became more manifest when news burst in upon us of the February revolution in Paris, and the flight of King Louis Philippe; for between the French people and the Irish there has always been an electric telegraph, whose signals never fail; and British statesmen had not forgotten that it was the first great French Revolution which cost them the Irish war of '98. The February revolution, also, at once obliterated the feuds of the Irish Confederation. Nobody would now be listened to there, who proposed any other mode of redress for Irish grievances than the sword. Reilly and myself, without ceremony, walked back into its meetings; and a resolution was passed with enthusiastic acclamation, that the Confederate clubs should become armed and officered, so that each man should know his right-hand and his left-hand comrade, and the man whose word he should obey. All the second-rate cities, as well as Dublin, and all the country towns, were now full of clubs, which assumed military and revolutionary names,—the "Sarsfield Club," the "Emmet Club," and so forth; and the business of arming proceeded with commendable activity. Such young men as could afford it, provided themselves with rifles and bayonets; those who had not the means for this got pikeheads made; and there was much request for ash poles. What was still more alarming to the enemy, the soldiers in several garrisons were giving unmistakable symptoms of sharing in the general excitement; not Irish soldiers alone, but even English and Scottish, who had Chartist ideas. A large part of the circulation of the United Irishman, in spite of all the efforts and exertions made by the officers, was in military barracks.

What was the "Government" to do? It was very plain that the island would not long hold both the " Government and me. Which, then, was to go? It is easy now to say that could hardly be doubted; but it was not easy then. New regiments were poured into Ireland, of course; and Dublin held an army of 10,000 men—infantry, cavalry, artillery, and engineers. The ...continue reading »

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Page 161

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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