The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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"warm-hearted" to a proverb, respond not only with ingratitude, but with imprecations,—that even now, when the country is, we are assured, prosperous and wealthy, there is still an eager, multitudinous emigration, to fly from such prosperity,—that ail this time, be the island hungry or well fed, prosperous or insolvent, more than one-half of Queen Victoria's army consists of Irishmen, of all ranks and creeds, who fight as zealously for their Queen (or at least for their pay), in Russia, India, and China, as any other of her troops;—all these phenomena together, present a case not paralleled in any other country or any other age.

A plain narrative of events may throw some light on it. My authorities shall be principally the Parliamentary Reports, as given in the newspapers of the time; Official Returns and Blue Books, as abstracted in the Government Statistical Directories; Speeches of O'Connell and O'Brien, as well as of Palmerston and Russell; Pamphlets and Memoirs which shall be cited hereafter; and my own personal knowledge.

So much by way of preface and programme.

The spring of the year One thousand eight hundred and forty-three opened brightly on Ireland. For years the seasons had been favourable and abundant; and although there had been, as usual, much ejectment and extermination of tenants, and the ordinary and normal amount of distress and hunger; although of the greater products there were greater exports to England, and a larger resort of landlords to England to spend the improved rentals; although every winter was a winter of misery which in any other land of white men would be intolerable;—still there had been no desolating and sweeping "famine" for twenty years.

O'Connell was at the height of his popularity and power. He had wrung from a hostile English ministry Catholic Emancipation, and was now representative in Parliament for the county of Cork, the greatest county in Ireland. He had, further, forced from England a measure of municipal reform, which opened the city corporations to Catholics; and had been, himself, first Catholic Lord Mayor of Dublin. The people believed he could do anything; and he almost believed it himself. In the beginning of this year he announced that it was the "Repeal year;" asked for three millions of enrolled Repealers in the Repeal Association; and confidently promised, and fully believed, that no English administration would venture so resist that great measure so enforced. The more ...continue reading »

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Page 9

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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