The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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again he was met. Duffy published a letter, very respectfully but firmly declaring that the cause we were all enlisted in was the national independence of Ireland. From other quarters also came symptoms of discontent; and at the next meeting of the Association he exclaimed: "Federalism! I would not give that for Federalism;" and he snapped his fingers. And still his entreaties for "peace, law, and order," became more nervously anxious, day by day; and he often declared that his " Head Pacificator" was now the most important person in the Association.

He said no more of his plan for a Council of Three Hundred, or adjourned it to a distant contingency. He praised too much as many thought, the sublime integrity and justice of the three Whig law-lords who had voted for reversing the judgment against him. But the most significant change in his behaviour was in the querulous captiousness he showed towards the Nation and those connected with it. He had much to say in deprecation of rash young men; and hinted that the youngsters in question were no better than infidels.

All these symptoms of retreating from his position, these good words to British Whiggery, and censure on "rash young men," appearing from week to week, fell upon the highly wrought excitement of the people with the effect of a repeated shower-bath, and the patient perceptibly cooled.

The Association all this time was becoming more powerful for good than ever. O'Brien had instituted a "Parliamentary Committee," and worked on it continually himself; which, at all events, furnished the nation with careful and authentic memoirs on all Irish questions and interests, filled with accurate statistical details. Many Protestant gentlemen, also, of high rank, joined the Association in '44 and '45, being evidently unconscious how certainly and speedily that body was going to destruction. The meetings were constant and crowded; and to a casual observer the agitation was as formidable and active as ever. "Our position," said the Nation, "is as good as the Duke's at Torres Vedras." Perhaps; but then the enemy was inside our position, not outside, which makes a great difference. In short, the British government set its back to the wall, loaded and primed, and let the Repealers talk.

The history of Ireland must now be sought elsewhere than in the Repeal Association; and I have next to mention the movements on the other side. The situation was uneasy, was intolerable, and had to be brought to an end somehow or other ...continue reading »

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Page 62

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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