The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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raise. It is the mighty, passionate struggle of a nation hastening to e born into new national life; in which unspeakable throes all the parts, and powers, and elements of our Irish existence,—our Confederations, our Protestant Repeal Associations, our Tenant-right Societies, our Clubs, Cliques, and Committees,—amidst confusions enough and the saddest jostling and jumbling,—are all inevitably tending to one and the same illustrious goal—not a local legislature—not a return to 'our ancient Constitution,' not a golden link or a patchwork Parliament, or a College Green chapel-of-ease to Saint Stephen's—but an Irish Republic, one and indivisible.

"And how are we to meet that day? In arms, my countrymen, in arms. Thus, and not otherwise, have ever nations of men sprung to liberty and power. But why do I reason thus with you,—with you, the Irish of Ulster, who never have denied the noble creed and sacraments of manhood? You have not been schooled for forty years in the fatal cant of moral force; you have not been utterly debauched and emasculated by the clap-trap platitudes of public meetings, and the empty glare of 'imposing demonstrations.' You have not yet learned the litany of slaves, and the whine of beaten hounds, and the way to die a coward's death. No; let once the great idea of our country's destiny seize on you, my kinsmen, and the way will be plain before you as a pike-staff twelve feet long.

"Yet there is one lesson you must learn:—fraternal respect for your countrymen of the South, and that sympathy with them, and faith in them, without which there can be no vital nationality in Ireland. You little know the history and sore trials and humiliations of this ancient Irish race; ground and trampled first for long ages in the very earth, and then taught—expressly taught—in solemn harangues, and even in sermons, that it was their duty to die, and see their children die before their faces, rather than resist their tyrants as men ought. You can hardly believe that creatures with the gait and aspect of men could have been brought to this. And you cannot wonder that they should have been slow, slow, in struggling upward out of such darkness and desolation. But I tell you, the light has at length come to them: the flowery spring of this year is the dawning of their day; and before the corn fields of Ireland are white for the reaper, our eyes shall see the sun flashing gloriously, if the heavens be kind to us, on a hundred thousand pikes.

"I will speak plainly. There are now growing on the soil of Ireland a wealth of grain, and roots, and cattle, far more than enough to sustain in life and in comfort all the inhabitants of the island. That wealth must not leave us another year,—not until every grain of it is fought for in every stage, from the binding of the sheaf to the loading of the ship. And the effort necessary to that simple act of self-preservation will at one and the same blow prostrate British dominion and landlordism together. 'Tis but the one act of volition;—if we resolve but to live, we make our country a free and sovereign State.

"Will you not gird up your loins for this great national struggle, and stand with your countrymen for life and land? Will you, the sons of a warlike race, the inheritors of conquering memories, with the arms of freemen in all your homes, and relics of the gallant Republicans of ...continue reading »

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Page 180

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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