The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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value of it in the sweat of their brows, or bought it from those who did so create it.

The Commissioners "foresee some danger to the just rights of property, from the unlimited allowance of this Tenant-Right.'' But they suggest a substitute: "Compensation for future improvements;" surrounding, however, that suggestion with difficulties which have prevented it from ever being realized.

Speaking of the consolidation of farms, they say:—

"When it is seen in the evidence, and in the return of the size of the farms, how small those holdings are, it cannot be denied that such a step is absolutely necessary."

And then, as to the people whom it is thus "necessary" to eject, they say:—

"Emigration is considered by the committee to be peculiarly applicable as a remedial measure."

They refer to one of their Tables (No. 95, p. 564), where

"The calculation is put forward, showing that the consolidation of the small holdings up to eight acres* would require the removal of about one hundred and ninety-two thousand three hundred and sixty-eight families."

That is, the removal of about one million of persons.

Such was the Devon programme:—Tenant-Right to be disallowed; one million of people to be removed, that is, swept out on the highways, where their choice would be America, the poor-house, or the grave. We shall see with what accuracy the details were carried out in practice.

The "Integrity of the Empire" was to be menaced no more by half-million Tara meetings: those ordered masses of the "Irish Enemy," with their growing enthusiasm, their rising spirit, and their yet more dangerous discipline, were to be thinned, to be cleared off: but all in the way of "amelioration." They were to be ameliorated out of their lives: there was to be a battue of benevolence. Both government and landlords had been thoroughly frightened by that vast parade of a nation: and they knew they had only been saved by O'Connell and his Peace-principle: and O'Connell was not immortal.

When I say there was a conspiracy of landlords and legislators to destroy the people, it would be unjust, as it is unnecessary, to charge all members of the Queen's Government, or all or any ...continue reading »


* An Irish acre is to an English one in the proportion of eight to five, nearly.

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Page 72

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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