Daniel O'Connell's "Monster Meetings" in 1843 - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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men, and by the enrolment of four millions of Repealers. I am a disciple of that sect of politicians who believe that the greatest of all sublunary blessings is too dearly purchased at the expense of a single drop of human blood."

Many persons did not understand this sort of language; and, what is worse, did not believe him sincere in using it. The prevailing impression was that while the Repeal Association was a peaceful body, contemplating only "constitutional agitation," yet the parade of such immense masses of physical force had an ulterior meaning, and indicated that if the British Parliament remained absolutely insensible to the reasonable demands of the people, the Association must be dissolved; and the next question would be how best and soonest to exterminate the British forces. I say of my own knowledge that many who were close to O'Connell expected all along that the English Parliament and government never would yield; and these would have taken small interest in the movement if it was never to go beyond speeches and cheers.

Meanwhile, nothing could be more peaceful, orderly, and good-humoured than the meetings. Father Mathew's temperance reformation had lately been working its wonders; and all the people were sober and quiet. Repeal Wardens everywhere organized an "O'Connell Police," with wands, and any person of the whole immense multitude who was even noisy was instantly and quietly removed. The government, indeed, soon took alarm, or affected to do so, for the peace of the country; and they sent large forces of armed constabulary to bivouac on the ground; but there never was the slightest excuse for interference.

The movement of the people, throughout this whole summer, was profound and sweeping: it carried along with it irresistibly the Catholic clergy, though in many cases against their will: but they were of the people, bound up with the people, dependent on the people, and found it their best policy to move not only with the people, but at their head. The Catholic Bishops and Archbishops gave in their adhesion, and began to take the chair at meetings; the French and German Press began to notice the struggle, and eagerly watch how England would deal with it. At last, on April 27th, Mr Lane Fox, a Tory member of Parliament, gave notice, "That it is the duty of her Majesty's Government to take immediate steps to put an end to the agitation for Repeal"—and on the same day Lord Eliot, Chief Secretary for Ireland, gave notice of a Bill " for the regulation of arms in Ireland." At the same moment the funds fell one and a half per cent. ...continue reading »

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