The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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No speech he ever uttered roused such a stormy tumult of applause as when, at Mallow "monster meeting," referring to the threats of coercion, and to an anxious Cabinet Council which had just been held, he said:—

"They spent Thursday in consulting whether they would deprive us of our rights, and I know not what the result of that council may be; but this I know, there was not an Irishman in this council, I may be told that the Duke of Wellington was there (oh, oh, and groans). Who calls him an Irishman (hisses and groans)? If a tiger's cub was dropped in a fold, would it be a lamb (hear, and cheers)! But perhaps I am wrong in anticipating, perhaps I am mistaken in warning you (no, no). But is there reason to caution you? The council sat for an entire day, and even then did not conclude its deliberations, but adjourned to the next day, while the business of the country was allowed to stand still (hear, hear, hear). What had they to deliberate about? The Repealers were peaceable, loyal, and attached—affectionately attached—to the Queen, and determined to stand between her and her enemies. If they assailed us to-morrow, and that we conquered them—as conquer them we will one day (cheering)—the first use of that victory which we would make would be, to place the sceptre in the hands of her who has ever shown us favour, and whose conduct has ever been full of sympathy and emotion for our sufferings (hear, hear, and loud cheers). Suppose, then for a moment, that England found the Act of Union to operate not for her benefit—if, instead of decreasing her debt, it added to her taxation and liabilities, and made her burthen more onerous—and if she felt herself entitled to call for a repeal of that Act, I ask Peel and Wellington, and let them deny it if they dare, and if they did they would be the scorn and byeword of the world, would she not have the right to call for a repeal of that Act (loud cheers)? And what are Irishmen that they should be denied the same privilege? Have we not the ordinary courage of Englishmen? Are we to be trampled under foot? Oh, they shall never trample me at least (tremendous cheering, which lasted several minutes). I was wrong—they may trample me under foot (cries of no, no, they never shall)—I say they may trample me, but it will be my dead body they will trample on, not the living man."

—And a roar, two hundred thousand strong, rent the clouds. From that day the meetings went on increasing in numbers, in regularity of training, and in highly-wrought excitement; until at Tara, and at Mullaghmast, the Agitator shook with the passion of the scene, as the fiery eyes of three hundred thousand upturned faces seemed to crave the word.

If it be asked whether I now believe, looking calmly back over the gulf of many years, that O'Connell's voice could indeed have made a revolution in Ireland, I answer, beyond all doubt, Yes. One word of his mouth, and there would not, in a month, have been one English epaulette in the island. He had that power; we shall see what he did with it. ...continue reading »

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Page 29

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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