Daniel O'Connell - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

« previous page | book contents | start of this chapter | next page »

thoroughly to arouse the people, he declined to go over to London to take his seat in Parliament (many other members following his example), and resolved to hold multitudinous meetings in every corner of the island.

First, he moved in the Dublin Corporation a resolution, for the adoption of a petition to Parliament, demanding a Repeal of the Union with England—that is to say, demanding back the Irish Parliament which had been extinguished in 1800; so that Ireland should once more have her own House of Peers and House of Commons; the Sovereign of England to be also Sovereign of Ireland. His speech was masterly, and covered the whole case. He cited the ablest jurists to show that the so-called Union was in law a nullity; reminded his audience of what was at any rate notorious and never denied—that supposing the two Parliaments competent to pass such an Act, it had been obtained by fraud and open bribery; an open market of bribery, of which the accounts are extant: £1,275,000 paid to proprietors for the purchase of nomination boroughs, at £15,000 per borough (which seats were immediately filled by English officers and clerks);—more than one million sterling expended on mere bribes; the tariff being quite familiar, £8,000 for an Union vote, or an office worth £2,000 a-year, if the member did not like to touch the ready money; twenty peerages, ten bishoprics, one chief-justiceship, six puisne judgeships; not to count regiments and ships given to officers in the army and navy; all dispensed as direct payment for their votes. He reminded them that the right of holding public meetings to protest against all this was taken away during the time the Union was in agitation; that county meetings convened by High-sheriffs of counties, as in Tipperary and Queen's county, were dispersed by troops; that martial law was in force and the Habeas Corpus suspended; that, in 1800, the number of soldiers concentrated in that island (half the size of Georgia was 129,000, as "good lookers-on;" that, notwithstanding all intimidation, seven hundred thousand persons had petitioned against the measure; and, notwithstanding all enticements, only three thousand had petitioned for it, most of these being government officials and prisoners in the gaols. If he had stopped here, most persons would think it enough: that was a deed which at the earliest possible moment must be undone and punished.

But he did not stop here: he went into all the details of ruined trade and manufactures since the Union—immensely increased drains in the shape of absentee rents and surplus ...continue reading »

« previous page | book contents | start of this chapter | next page »

Page 10