The British Press on John Mitchel - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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THE whole British Press, which never strikes so viciously at an enemy as when he is down and in chains, sent after me on my dark voyage one continuous shriek of execration and triumph that came to my ear even in my Bermuda prison. The "government" was to have no trouble, as they fondly flattered themselves, thenceforth. Ireland, once cleared of me, was to be manageable. There was to be no more jury-packing if possible, and conciliatory government was to commence with Habeas Corpus, Trial by Jury, and other Palladia of the British Constitution.

But the enemy was somewhat too sanguine. The profound passion of wrath and shame, kindled throughout Ireland by the incidents of my pretended trial, could not sink down and allay itself so speedily as the ameliorative enemy hoped. At the next meeting of the Confederation, Meagher, in a most noble and intensely passionate speech which I have already cited, said:—

"We are no longer masters of our lives. They belong to our country—to liberty—to vengeance! Upon the walls of Newgate a fettered hand has inscribed this destiny. We shall be the martyrs or the rulers of a revolution. . . . Once again they shall have to pack their jury-box; once again exhibit to the world the frauds and mockeries, the tricks and perjuries, upon which their power is based."

Once again! Yes, indeed, and more than once, they were to pack their jury. True, they felt reluctant to do it; but the alternative was,—to pack juries, or give up Ireland. This, indeed, had become too apparent. The open and audacious proceedings which had taken place on my trial made it clear that the enemy would, without scruple, "exhibit to the world fraud and mockeries, tricks and perjuries"—but that they could not bear to think of exhibiting to the world the spectacle of Ireland wrested out of the clutches of England.

The fierce enthusiasm of our Confederates was redoubled after my removal. They hoped, at least, that if they were restrained from action then, it was to some good end, with some sure and well-defined purpose, and there were many thousands of men then ...continue reading »

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