Opinion in the English Parliament - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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The first threat of coercion brought important accessions to the ranks of the Repealers; and the monster meetings became now more monstrous than ever; but, if possible, even gayer and more good-humoured. O'Connell appeared in the Repeal Association on the Monday after Mr Lane Fox's notice of motion; and on the proceedings being interrupted for a moment by the braying of a donkey on Burgh-quay, he said gently: "Maybe that's Lane Fox:" whereupon the braying was in turn drowned by roars of laughter. Mr Lane Fox wrote a newspaper letter to O'Connell, inquiring when he would be in his place in Parliament, that the motion to put down Repeal might be proceeded with. O'Connell replied by a card, recommending the friends of that gentleman "to obtain for him that protection which the court in matter of lunacy is enabled to give," etc. At another meeting he exclaimed:—

"That man is one of the legislators for Ireland; and though I went to Parliament as the representative of 700,000 Irishmen in the county of Cork, the individual who can talk such nonsense is equal to me there. If I had no other reason for looking for a repeal of the Union than that Mr Lane Fox is a legislator for Ireland, I never cheered my beagles upon a drag with one half the voice that I would hunt this foolish fox."

His sarcasm was bitter, his reasoning irrefragable, his array multitudinous in its peaceful might; but in the meantime Lord Eliot was preparing his Arms Bill (an invention which I shall presently describe); and on the ninth of May, the Duke of Wellington in the Lords, and Sir Robert Peel in the Commons, declared that all the resources of the empire should be exerted to preserve the Union; and Sir Robert Peel added, quoting Lord Althorp, that, deprecating civil war as he did, he should hold civil war preferable to the "dismemberment of the Empire." Mr Bernal [Osborne] instantly asked Sir Robert, as he cited Lord Althorp's words, "whether he would abide by another declaration of that noble lord, namely, that if all the members for Ireland should be in favour of Repeal, he would consider it his duty to grant it." And Sir Robert Peel replied—"I do not recollect that Lord Althorp ever made any such declaration; but if he did, I am not prepared to abide by it."

At this point issue was joined. The majority of the Irish nation desired to undo the union with England; but England declared that if all Ireland demanded that measure, England would rather drown the demand in blood.

In the next chapter, I shall endeavour to give an idea of the personnel of the Repeal Association, and of its enemies ...continue reading »

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