The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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But this needed prudence; for Protestant Repeal Associations had been formed in Dublin, in Drogheda, and even in Lurgan, a great centre of Orangeism. To counteract the progress we had made in this direction, the aristocracy and the clergy were incessant in their efforts, and the Protestants were assured that if Ireland should throw off the dominion of Queen Victoria, we would all instantly become vassals to the Woman who sitteth upon Seven Hills.

The Viceroy, at the same time, took care to frighten the moneyed citizens of Dublin and other towns by placards warning them against the atrocious designs of "Communists" and "Jacobins," whose only object, his lordship intimated, was plunder.* Lord Clarendon seemed to deliberate for some days whether he would proclaim and disarm Dublin, under the late Arms Act; or whether he would make one last desperate plunge into the "Law." The first course would have drenched the city in blood. Our Clubmen had not gone to so much trouble and expense in supplying themselves with arms, only to give them up to the enemy The Chartists and Irish in England, too, were in dangerous humour; and if troops had once been let loose on the people in Ireland, many a city and factory would blaze high in England. On the whole, he resolved to begin with me. If I were once removed, he thought the difficulty would be more manageable.

A speech, a letter, a short article, all published in the United Irishman, formed the corpus delicti of the crime which the enemy undertook to prosecute. Of these it is enough to present the letter; a letter which any candid reader will admit to have been at least provoking, if not illegal. It was addressed to the Protestants of the North:—

"MY FRIENDS,—Since I wrote my first letter to you, many kind and flattering addresses have been made to you by exceedingly genteel and very rich noblemen and gentlemen. Those of you, especially, who are Orangemen, seem to have somehow got into high favour with this genteel class, which must make you feel rather strange, I think;—you have not been used to much recognition and encouragement, of late years, from British Viceroys, or the noble and right worshipful Grand Masters. They rather avoided you; seemed, indeed, as many thought, somewhat ashamed of you and your old anniversaries. Once upon a time, no Irish nobleman or British Minister dared make light of the ...continue reading »


* I attribute these placards to Lord Clarendon without scruple. They were printed by the Government printer, and paid for out of our taxes. But it is quite possible that the Viceroy, if charged with these things, would deny them, because they were done through a third party—perhaps Birch. In like manner he denied all knowledge of the shipment of muskets to the Belfast Orangemen: they were sent, however, from his Castle, and through a subordinate official of his household.

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Page 176

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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