The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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try to cut off quite peaceably every detachment of her Majesty's loyal army."

What contributed to disquiet the British exceedingly, was, that great and excited Repeal meetings were held every week in American cities; meetings not only of Irish-born citizens, but of natives also; and considerable funds were remitted from hence to O'Connell's Repeal Exchequer.

"If something is not done (said Colonel Thomson in the Westminster) a fleet of steamboats from the United States will some fine morning be the Euthanasia of the Irish struggle."

I might cite many extracts from the Press of France, exhibiting a powerful interest in what the French conceived to be an impending military struggle. Take one from the Constitutionnel:

"When Ireland is agitated—when, at the sound of the powerful voice of O'Connell, four hundred thousand Irish assemble together in their meetings, and pronounce, as if it were by a single man, the same cry and the same word, it is a grand spectacle, which fills the soul, and which, even at this distance, moves the very strongest feelings of the heart, for it is the spectacle of an entire people who demand justice—of a people who have been despoiled of everything, even of the means of sustenance, and yet who require with calmness and with firmness the untrammelled exercise of their religion, and some of the privileges of their ancient nationality."

Now nobody, either in France or the United States, would have given himself the trouble to watch that movement with interest, if they had not all believed that O'Connell and the Irish people meant to fight. Neither in America nor in France had men learned to appreciate "the ethical experiment of moral force." Clearly, also, the English expected a fight, and were preparing for it, and greatly preferred that mode of settling the difficulty (having a powerful army and navy ready) to O'Brien's method, inquiry, discussion, and redress—seeing that they were wholly unprovided with arguments, and had no idea of giving redress.

It is also quite as clear that the Irish people then expected and longed, and burned for battle; and never believed that O'Connell would adhere to his " peace policy" even in the last extremity. Still, as he rose in apparent confidence, and became more defiant in his tone, the people rallied more ardently around him; and thousands of quiet resolute men flocked into the Repeal . cause, who had hitherto held back from all the agitations, merely because they had always believed O'Connell insincere. They thought that the mighty movement which now surged up around him had whirled him into its own tempest at last, and that "the time was come." ...continue reading »

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Page 28

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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