The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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CHAPTER VIII.

APPROACH OF THE FAMINE IN 1845—REPEAL PROSPECTS AFTER THE LIBERATION OF O'CONNELL—IRISH PRODUCE EXPORTED TO ENGLAND IN 1844—ARMS AND DETECTIVES IN RETURN FOR IT—"LANDLORD AND TENANT" COMMISSION—EJECTMENT LEGISLATION—CONDITION OF IRELAND IN 1845—THE DEVON COMMISSION—THE "TENANT-RIGHT OF ULSTER"—CONSPIRACY OF LANDLORD AND LEGISLATORS—SIR ROBERT PEEL.

THE Fall of the year 1845 brought the first shadow of "Famine." But, before coming to that dreadful time, some preliminary information will be useful.

After the liberation of O'Connell there was apparently greater zeal and diligence than ever in working the cause of Repeal; but the English, being now quite sure there would be no fighting, at least while O'Connell lived, paid it much less regard. There was no more terror of the monster; which, indeed, had proved itself a harmless monster, and boasted that it was toothless and fangless. They could even afford to dally with it in a playful manner, or to reprove it gently and good-humouredly. The Times, for example, which was then accounted the most influential organ of British opinion, published some articles, immediately after the liberation, advocating some sort of federal Union. Said the Times

"The idea of a Congress has occurred to other minds before this as a solution of many existing difficulties. We are becoming less of a nation and more of an empire. The conduct of an empire and the government of one's own people seem quite different and incongruous operations. The very ethical qualities necessary, perhaps, for keeping a barbaric continent in subjection don't do at home. One is shocked to see either Irish peasants or English labourers ruled with the same rod of iron as Mahrattas or Belochees—with the same suspicious discipline as a mutinous man-of-war crew, or a black regiment at the Cape. There is, too, something absolutely ridiculous in the present mixture of parliamentary subjects. An hour's talk on the balance of power between the Continental empires is followed by three days' animated discussion on a personal squabble."

Did this indicate that the English mind was becoming reconciled to the thought of a distinct legislature for Ireland? Not at all; every real movement was the other way, tending to consolidation and centralization—not of the legislature only, ...continue reading »

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Page 63

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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