The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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CHAPTER XI.

DUTIES OF GOVERNMENT—ALMS—PLAYFAIR AND LINDLEY—MEMORIAL OF THE CORPORATION AND CITIZENS OF DUBLIN—LORD HEYTESBURY—O'CONNELL'S PROPOSALS—O'BRIEN'S—MEETING OF PARLIAMENT—COERCION BILL—REPEAL OF THE CORN LAWS—"RELIEF."

LORD BROUGHAM, in his high-flown, classical way, described the horrors of the famine in Ireland, as "surpassing anything in the page of Thucydides,—on the canvas of Poussin,—in the dismal chant of Dante." Such a visitation, falling suddenly upon any land, certainly imposes onerous duties upon its de-facto government; and the very novelty of the circumstances, driving everything out of its routine course, might well excuse serious mistakes in applying a remedy to so monstrous a calamity. First, however, bear in mind that all the powers, revenues, and resources of Ireland had been transferred to London. The Imperial Parliament had dealt at its pleasure with the "sister island" for forty-six years, and had brought us to this. Second, remember that, now, for two years, a great majority of the Irish people had been earnestly demanding back those powers, revenues, and resources; and the English people, through their Executive, Parliament, and Press, had unanimously vowed this must never be. They would govern us in spite of us, "under the blessing of Divine Providence," as the Queen said. "Were the Union gall," said the Times, "swallow it you must."

Well, then, whatsoever duties may be supposed to fall upon a government, in case of such a national calamity, rested on the English government. We had no legislature at home; in the Imperial legislature we had but a delusive semblance of representation; and so totally useless was it, that national Irish Members of Parliament preferred to stay at home. We had no authoritative mode of even suggesting what measures might (in mere Irish opinion) meet the case.

But we will see what was proposed by such public bodies in Ireland as still had power of meeting together in any capacity;—the city corporations, for example, and especially the Repeal Association. It has been carefully inculcated upon the world by the British Press, that the moment Ireland fell into distress, she became an abject beggar at England's gate;—nay, that she even craved alms from all mankind. Some readers may be ...continue reading »

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Page 93

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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