The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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the government; and the system required in the schools was, as we see, carefully calculated to crush every spark of national feeling.

Ninth.—The only investment of their small savings which industrious people could make was in the Savings Banks (land being unpurchaseable in small lots); and the Savings Banks are government institutions. The law requires them to invest the money deposited with them in the public funds; and so every depositor, feeling that his little all is in the power of the English government, is to that extent interested in maintaining its credit and stability.

Tenth.—The Sheriffs are nominees of the Crown; and the Sheriffs arrange the Juries. In England, every corporate city elects its own Sheriff; but in the "Municipal Reform Bill" for Ireland this power was reserved to the Crown. It is in the city of Dublin that State prosecutions are usually tried; and the Sheriff of Dublin is always a creature of the government. The use of this is too obvious.

Eleventh.—And best of all—for even the other ten arrangements, though you may think they give England a tolerably strong grasp of the little island, could not have been relied upon without this—a system of Disarming Acts. I have mentioned that on the same day the Ministers declared in the Queen's name that the Union must at all hazards be maintained, Lord Eliot introduced a new "Arms Bill" for Ireland. Ever since the Union it had been thought necessary by the British Government to have stringent laws in force to prevent "improper persons" from possessing arms—that is, persons supposed to be disaffected—that is, the great majority of the population. I shall not detail the long series of acts for this purpose, with their continual amendments; but simply describe the provisions of this new one, which Lord Eliot recommended in the House of Commons, by the remark: "That it was substantially similar to what had been the law in Ireland for half a century," (June 15th,) and again, (June 26th,) "He would ask the noble lord to compare it with the bill of 1838, and to point out the difference. In fact, this was milder." This mild act, then, provided: that no man could keep arms of any sort, without first having a certificate from two householders, "rated to the poor" at above £20, and then producing that certificate to the Justices at Sessions (said Justices being all appointed by the Crown, and all "sure" men); and then—if the Justices permitted the applicant to keep arms at all—they were to be registered and branded by the police. After that they could not be removed, sold, or ...continue reading »

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The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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