The "Nation" Newspaper - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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an illustrious name, if nothing else of great value. O'Brien still stood aloof. The working staff of the Association in Dublin consisted of obscure people, generally very humble servants of O'Connell.

But within this same Association there was a certain smaller Association, composed of very different men. Its head and heart was Thomas Davis, a young Protestant lawyer of Cork county, who had been previously known only as a scholar and antiquarian; a zealous member of the Royal Irish Academy, and of the Archaeological Society In the autumn of '42, he and his friend John B. Dillon (then a Roscommon lawyer and afterwards a New York lawyer) had projected the publication of a weekly literary and political journal of the highest class, to sustain the cause of Irish nationhood, to give it a historic and literary interest which would win and inspire the youth of the country, and above all, to conciliate the Protestants, by stripping the agitation of a certain suspicion of sectarianism, which, though disavowed by O'Connell, was naturally connected with it by reason of the antecedents of its chief.

Mr Duffy, the editor of a provincial newspaper in Belfast, happened to be then in Dublin, on the occasion of a State prosecution against his journal, and Davis and Dillon proposed that he should undertake the ostensible editorship of the new paper; of which, however, Davis was to be the principal writer. So commenced the Nation newspaper; and for three years it was, next to O'Connell, the strongest power in Ireland on the national side. Its editor, Mr Duffy, had good literary talent, great ambition, abundant vanity, but defective education. He had been connected with the Press from his boyhood, had most excellent ideas about the arrangement and organization of a newspaper, and great zeal and earnestness in the cause of repeal. Dillon was a man of higher mark and greater acquirement: but both these were indolent; and in fact Davis took upon him the burden of the labour. Writing was a small part of his duty. He was indefatigable in searching out efficient recruits amongst the young men of his acquaintance, kindling their ambition, and filling them with the same generous spirit of mutual forgiveness for the past, and a common hope for the future, by which ho designed to obliterate the religious feuds of ages and raise up a new Irish nation. Whatever was done, throughout the whole movement, to win Protestant support, was the work of Davis. His genius, his perfect unselfishness, his accomplishments, his cordial manner, his high and chivalrous character, and the dash and impetus of his writings, soon brought around him a gifted ...continue reading »

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