The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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Grey Porter's pamphlets were stirring and bold: and his ideas about the militia were welcomed warmly and passionately by Davis. "Honour to Mr Porter," he wrote, "for having had the manliness to propose what thousands thought but spoke not." His appeals to his fellow-Protestants were strong and warm. His first pamphlet says:—

"At present the Irish Protestants have a great deal of smothered national feeling. They may be distinct from their Catholic countrymen—they are equally so from the natives of England. Their psychology is national, though their politics are imperial. They have more self-control, more self-reliance, than their Catholic countrymen; but who that is familiar with their minds but knows that they are full of Irish ardour,—of Irish love of whatever is dashing and splendid; and that in favourable circumstances they are just the body who, backed by the Catholic multitudes, would achieve a revolution in Ireland, whose vibrations would be felt wherever a single foundation of British empire has been laid? It would certainly be a most magnificent consummation of Irish history, if that proud and fiery body, the Protestants of Ireland, should, inflamed by a generous nationality, marshal in the ranks of their Catholic countrymen—unfurl the standard of Orange and Green, and casting off the shackles of England, display their hereditary valour in fields that would eclipse the glories of Derry and the Boyne."

All this talk about unfurling standards, and the like, was highly distasteful to O'Connell; and the "Head Pacificator" snuffed carnage. But O'Brien hailed with a calm smile the evident progress of the true gospel of manhood; and the Nation busied itself in pointing out and enumerating the militia force of all the countries of Europe; and telling how even the British Colonies, Canada, and the West India islands, were guarded by that indispensable kind of force. To exhibit and prove all this was easy; but all the while there was the Disarming Act; and the crime of training or drilling in Ireland was felony, punishable by transportation.

Still the enemy looked on not without uneasiness. It was to them very evident that they held Ireland only by the tenure of O'Connell's life: and therefore it became highly necessary to break up the organization before the Agitator's death.

The extermination of tenantry, which was expected to follow Lord Devon's Report, might be too slow for their purposes, though it was quite sure. The "Report" was in the mouths of all; and was precisely such as Sir Robert Peel had expected, and intended to get, from Irish landlords. It was a report of foxes upon a flock of geese; and it clearly appeared in its pages that the geese had nothing to say for themselves why judgment should not be passed upon them, to be devoured whole, with ...continue reading »

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Page 75

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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