The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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CHAPTER IX.

LAND-TENURE REPORT—O'BRIEN—EIGHTY-TWO CLUB—GREY PORTER—A NATIONAL MILITIA—PRESIDENT POLK AND OREGON TERRITORY—ROBERT TYLER—COLLEGES BILL—MACNEVIN—JAMES HAUGHTON—JOHN O'CONNELL AND GENERAL JACKSON—LORD STANLEY'S BILL—"SURPLUS POPULATION"—DEATH OF DAVIS—FAMINE.

IT was in the month of February, 1845, that the first of the four voluminous Reports was published by the Land Tenure Commission. Sir Robert Peel was Prime Minister; Lord Stanley (afterwards Lord Derby) was Colonial Secretary. In England, the Repeal Agitation was still regarded as formidable. Twenty-six of the hundred and five Irish Members of Parliament were declared and enrolled Repealers; and these, despairing of influencing the course of Imperial legislation by attending the London Parliament, gave their attendance in "Conciliation Hall," along with O'Connell and O'Brien, or else stayed at home. O'Brien, zealously aided by Davis and his friends in the Nation office, and by John O'Connell, was labouring on the Committee of the Association; whose reports and pamphlets, widely circulated amongst the people, were diffusing sound information upon the national resources of the island, and the state of the account lying open between Ireland and England. Mainly through the exertions of Davis, "Repeal Reading Rooms" sprang up in every town; and a Club was formed, which called itself the "Eighty-two-Club," in honour of the era of Ireland's Independence (1782). The members of the Club attended public meetings and festivals in a dark green uniform, adorned with gold lace; and the uniform cap resembled the forage-cap of an officer of hussars. Mr Grey Porter, a gentleman of large property in Fermanagh, and son to the bishop of Clogher, joined the Association; and forthwith published a pamphlet, propounding, amongst other things, that Ireland ought to have a national militia of 100,000 men. Men's thoughts were tending towards battle: the agitation was beginning, notwithstanding all the Head Pacificator's labours, to assume a semi-military look; and this hardly alarmed the English more than it alarmed O'Connell. He loved not that "Eighty-two Club," with its forage cap; but seeing he could not prevent its formation, he accepted—that is, assumed—the presidency of it; and soon took care to swamp it with his own peaceful and constitutional creatures.

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Page 74

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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