Repeal of the Union Debate - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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taxation—frauds in subjecting Ireland to a charge for the English national debt, and even charging to Ireland's special account the very moneys expended in bribes and military expenses for carrying the Union; which he said was about as fair as "making Ireland pay for the knife with which Lord Castlereagh cut his throat;"—injustice in giving Ireland but 100 members in the House of Commons while her population and revenue entitled her to 175; and above all, the injustice of fixing the qualification of electors of these members much higher in Ireland, the poorer country, than in England.

This is a sketch only of the case for Repeal of the Union;—the necessity for some remedy or other was only too apparent in the poverty and wretchedness which moved and scandalized all Europe—in the increasing beggary, notwithstanding the new Poor Law,—a measure which had been forced on the country against its will, and was totally unsuited to it.

The petition for Repeal was adopted by a vote of forty-one to fifteen in the Dublin Corporation; and a similar petition shortly after by the Corporation of Cork. Hitherto the English press, and the Irish press in the English interest, looked on with affected or real indifference and contempt.

The spring opened; and O'Connell left Dublin for the provinces. Then began the series of vast open-air meetings, to which the peasantry, accompanied by their priests, Repeal Wardens, and " Temperance bands," flocked in numbers varying from 50,000 to 250,000,—(I take the reduced and disparaging estimate of enemies; but the Repeal newspapers put up the Tara meeting to 400,000). Of course the orator always addressed these multitudes; but though his voice was the most powerful of his day, he could not be heard by a tenth of them. Neither did they come to hear; they were all well indoctrinated by local Repeal "Wardens; had their minds made up, and came to convince their leader that they were with him, and would be ready at any time when called upon.

But all was to be peaceable. They were to demand their rights imperatively; they were, he assured them, tall men and strong; at every monster meeting he had around him, as he often said, the materials of a greater army than both the armies combined that fought at Waterloo. But, he said—

"But take heed not to misconceive me. Is it by force or violence, bloodshed, or turbulence that I shall achieve this victory, dear above all earthly considerations to my heart? No! perish the thought for ever. I will do it by legal, peaceable, and constitutional means alone,—by the electricity of public opinion, by the moral combination of good ...continue reading »

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