Daniel O'Connell

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXXVII

The history of Ireland and the life of O'Connell are convertible terms for five-and-forty years. O'Connell represented Ireland, and Ireland was represented by O'Connell. We have had our great men and our good men, our brave men and our true men; but, to my poor thinking, the greatest of our men was O'Connell—for who ever approached him in his mighty power of ruling a nation by moral suasion only? the best of our men was O'Connell, for who dare assert that he was ever unfaithful to his country or to his country's faith'! the bravest of our men was O'Connell, equally fearless in every danger, moral or physical; and the truest of our men was O'Connell, dying of a broken heart in a faraway land, because he saw his country's cause all but ruined—because he knew that with his failing breath one of his country's surest helpers would pass from her for ever.

A thoughtfully written "History of the Life and Times of O'Connell," by some one really competent to do justice to the subject, is much wanted. I believe that posterity will do justice to his memory as one of the best and noblest patriots which the world has ever seen—a justice which as yet has been scarcely accorded to him as fully as he has merited. Had O'Connell accomplished no other work for Ireland than this—the giving of a tone of nationality and manliness to the people—he had accomplished a most glorious work. He taught Irishmen that chains do not make the slave, but rather the spirit in which the chains are worn. He awoke, in the hearts of his countrymen, that love of freedom, which is the first step towards making a successful effort to obtain it. He showed them how they might intimidate their oppressors without injuring themselves—a lesson eminently necessary where the oppressors are incomparably more powerful than the oppressed.