The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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In Ireland, who longed and burned, for that end and that purpose, to earn an honourable death. How the British system disappointed them even of an honourable death, remains still to be told. A man can die in Ireland of hunger, or of famine-typhus, or of a broken heart, or of delirium tremens; but to die for your country,—the death dulce et decorum,—to die on a fair field, fighting for freedom and honour,—to die the death even of a defeated soldier, as Hofer died; or so much as to mount the gallows like Robert Emmet, to pay the penalty of a glorious "treason,"—even this was an euthanasia which British policy could no longer afford to an Irish Nationalist.

Yet with all odds against them,—with the Irish gentry thoroughly corrupted or frightened out of their senses, and with the "government" enemy obviously bent on treating our national aspiration as an ignominious crime, worthy to be ranked only with the offences of burglars or pickpockets,—still there were men resolved to dare the worst and uttermost for but one chance of rousing that down-trodden people to one manful effort of resistance against so base and cruel a tyranny. The Irish Confederation reconstituted its Council, and set itself more diligently than ever to the task of inducing the people to procure arms, with a view to a final struggle in the harvest. And as it was clear that there was nothing the enemy dreaded so much as a bold and honest newspaper which would expose their plots of slaughter and turn their liberal professions inside out, it was before all things necessary to establish a newspaper to take the place of the United Irishman.

It was a breach as deadly and imminent as ever yawned in a beleaguered wall; but men were found prompt to stand in it. Within two weeks after my trial, the Irish Tribune was issued, edited by O'Doherty, Williams, and Antisell. In two weeks more, on the 24th of June, came forth another and perhaps the ablest of our revolutionary organs,—the Irish Felon. Its editor and proprietor was John Martin; a quiet country gentleman of the county Down, who had been for years connected with all national movements in Ireland,—the Repeal Association, the Irish Confederation,—but who had never been roused to the pitch of desperate resistance till he saw the bold and dashing atrocity of the enemy on the occasion of my pretended "trial." He came calmly to the conviction that the nation must now at last set its back to the wall; and that if no other would lead in this, he would. From the opening article, signed with Martin's name, I extract a paragraph or two, as sufficient indication of his position and purpose:—

"At the time when John Mitchel lay in Newgate prison expecting ...continue reading »

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Page 193

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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