The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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the House refused the committee of inquiry; would discuss no grievances; and proceeded with their Arms Bill.

It may be said that these excessive precautions to keep arms out of the hands of the Irish people, testified the high esteem in which the military spirit of that people was held in England; and in that point of view the long series of Arms Acts may be regarded as a compliment. In truth, the English had some occasion to know that the Irish make good soldiers. In this very month of July, 1843, for example, a British General fought the decisive battle of Meeanee, by which the Ameers of Scinde were crushed. While the Bill for disarming Ireland was pending in London, far off on the banks of the Indus, Napier went into action with less than 3000 troops against 25,000; only four hundred of his men being "British" soldiers; but those four hundred were a Tipperary regiment,—the 22d,—and they did their work in such style as made the gray old warrior shout with delight: "Magnificent Tipperary!" In some distant latitude or longitude arms are thought to fit Irish hands, but not at home.

In the meantime, some additional regiments, mostly of English or Scotch troops, were landed in Ireland; and several war-steamers, with a fleet of gun-brigs, were sent to cruise around the coast. Barracks began to be fortified and loop-holed; and police-stations were furnished with iron-grated windows. It was quite plain that the English Government intended, on the first pretext of provocation, to make a salutary slaughter.

The vast monster meetings continued, and with even intenser enthusiasm; but always with perfect peace and order. The speeches of O'Connell at these meetings, though not heard by a fourth of the multitudes, were carefully reported, and flew over all Ireland and England too, in hundreds of newspapers. So that probably no speeches ever delivered in the world had so wide an audience. The people began to neglect altogether the proceedings of Parliament, and felt that their cause was to be tried at home. More and more of the Irish members of Parliament discontinued their attendance in London, and gathered around O'Connell. Many of those who still went to London were called on by their constituents to come home or resign.

Sir Edward Sugden was then Lord Chancellor of Ireland; and he began offensive operations on the British side by depriving of the Commission of the Peace all magistrates who joined the Repeal Association, or took the chair at a Repeal meeting. He had dismissed in this way about twenty, including O'Connell ...continue reading »

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Page 23

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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