Sir Robert Peel's plan for a New Plantation of Ireland - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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being no law to authorize such a commutation. The prisoners, therefore, objected through their counsel: they had no use for life under such circumstances; and demanded to have the extreme benefit of the law. Ministers, however, were resolved to be merciful,—introduced an Act into Parliament, empowering the Queen to transport them,—had it passed at once,—and immediately shipped them off to herd with felons in the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land. O'Doherty and Martin, having been originally sentenced to ten years' transportation, were sent away at the same time, but in another ship; and for more than five years, in the most degrading bondage, they expiated the crime of " not having sold their country." If they had prudently sold that commodity, there were no Irishmen in our day who could have made so profitable a bargain.

What to do now with this Ireland, thus fallen under the full and peaceful possession of her "sister island," was the subject of serious thought in England. The famine was still slaying its tens of thousands; and the government emigration scheme was drawing away many thousands more, and shooting them out naked and destitute on the shores of the St Lawrence: so that it was hoped the "Celts" would soon be thinned out to the proper point. The very danger so lately escaped, however, brought home to the British Government, and to the Irish landlords, the stern necessity of continued extermination. It was better, they felt, to have too few hands to till the ground, than too many for the security of law and order.

A plan was promulgated by Sir Robert Peel for a new "Plantation of Ireland"—that is, for replacing the Irish with good Anglo-Saxons; and this idea was warmly advocated by no less a person than Thomas Carlyle. Vae Victis! was the word. "Ireland," said Carlyle, "is a starved rat that crosses the path of an elephant: what is the elephant to do?—squelch it, by heaven! squelch it!" From this time commenced that most virulent vilification of the Celtic Irish, in all the journals, books, and periodicals of the "sister island," which has been so faithfully reproduced (like all other British cant) in America, and which gave such venom to the Know-Nothing agitation. Then, more than ever, English writers were diligent in pointing out and illustrating the difference of "race" between Celt and Saxon; which proved to their own satisfaction that the former were born to be ruled by the latter. A peculiar feature in this species of literature, is, that the most zealous apostles and preachers of it have been themselves Celts of the Celts: Carlyle himself, for example, a Scotchman of Dumfriesshire, and with a name that convicts him of kindred ...continue reading »

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