Waterford Election of 1848 - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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"If Ireland had one single chance in contending with her ancient enemy upon his own chosen ground,—if Ireland had any right to send representatives to a British Parliament,—if Irishmen, there were indeed members of an Imperial senate, and not captives dragged at the chariot wheels of an Imperial ovation in the enemy's capital city,—if that Parliament were not a lie, an imposture, an outrage, a game in which our part and lot must be disgrace and defeat for ever, a shield and strong tower for its masters, but against us a two-edged sword,—if it were anything to Ireland besides a conduit of corruption, a workshop of coercion, a storehouse of starvation, a machinery of cheating, and a perpetual memento of slavery,—then we should congratulate the 'electors' of Waterford on this opportunity of doing honour to themselves, and conferring a trust on their most distinguished citizen.

"Mr Thomas F. Meagher has offered himself as their representative. We give an extract from his address.

"The grounds upon which I seek your trust are these: I shall not meddle with English affairs. I shall take no part in the strife of parties: all factions are alike to me. I shall go to the English House of Commons to insist upon the right of this country to be held, governed, and defended by its own citizens, and by them alone. Whilst I live, I shall never rest satisfied until the kingdom of Ireland has won a parliament, an army, and a navy of her own.

"'Of other things I shall not speak:—petty ameliorations—instalments of justice—scraps of government patronage;—if these things mingle in the burning hopes of the nation, the day for Ireland has not yet arrived, and I shall wait for other men and other times.

"'But if your thirst be, what I hope it is, for the pure and living waters;—and if you think that my youth and strength, my glory here and hope hereafter, would inspire my efforts to realize your wishes,—every personal objection to me will disappear. You will pledge your trust to my truth, and that obligation will, by its own holiness, compel me to fulfil it.'

"They are noble sentiments; and if there be faith in man, here is a man who will redeem his pledges. What glorious genius, indomitable courage, and passionate devotion to a sacred cause can do, we might expect to see done by Mr Meagher.

"Yet we pray for his defeat. If Mr Meagher were in parliament, men's eyes would be attracted thither once more; some hope of 'justice' might again revive in this too easily deluded people. The nobler his genius, the more earnest his zeal, the more conspicuous his patriotism, just the more mischief would he do in propping up, through another session, perhaps through another famine, the miserable delusion of a 'parliamentary party.'"

Mr Meagher's opponents were, first, one Pat. Costello, a placeman already, and one who desired to be a higher placeman, and to make as many as possible of his constituents placemen too—that is, hired servants of the enemy; second, Sir Henry Winston Barron, a Whig. A number of our principal Confe- ...continue reading »

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