State of Ireland in 1849 - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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utterly absurd and indefensible of all the institutions now existing in the civilised world." But every one knows what value there is in the liberal declarations of Whigs out of place. Once in place and power, they felt that the "enormity" of the Established Church, absurd and indefensible as it was, constituted one of their greatest and surest holds upon the Irish aristocracy, to whose younger sons and dependants it afforded a handsome and not too laborious livelihood. The Archbishop of Armagh alone continued yearly to receive his £14,664—almost thrice the salary of the President of the United States; and the Bishop of Derry nearly double as much as the President—and ten other bishops, emoluments varying from £7,600 down to the lowest, £2,310. Then every parish must have its "rector," though in a great many parishes there are no congregations; and the poor Catholic people, over and above rents, rates, and taxes, must pay these sinecure pastors out of their poor stackyards—the remedy for non-payment being distress by the landlord.* The Orangemen, also, have been maintained in full force. They are all armed: for no bench of magistrates will refuse a good Protestant the liberty of keeping a gun; and lest they might not have enough, the Government sometimes supplies arms for distribution among the lodges. The police and detective system is more highly organized than ever; and the Government Board of "National" Education, more diligently than ever inculcates the folly and vice of national aspirations.

Yet Ireland, we are told, is "improving" and "prosperous." Yes; it cannot be denied that three millions of the people have been slain or driven to seek safety by flight, the survivors begin to live better for the present. There is a smaller supply of labour, with the same demand for it—therefore wages are higher. There is more cattle and grain for export to England, because there are fewer mouths to be fed; and England (in whose hands are the issues of life and death for Ireland) can afford to let so many live. Upper classes, and lower classes, merchants, lawyers, state-officials, civil and military, are indebted for all that they have, for all that they are or hope for, to the sufferance and forbearance of a foreign and hostile nation. This being the case, every one must see that the prosperity of Ireland, even such ignominious prosperity as it is, has no guarantee or security. Whenever Irishmen grow numerous again (as they surely will), and whenever " that ancient swelling ...continue reading »

* In the matter of the Established Church, also, the late Gladstone law ("Disestablishment and Disendowment") is a mere subterfuge and imposture. It has diminished the emoluments of some of the bishops, but has not relieved the people of any part of this burden on account of that church; no, not to the amount of a single farthing.

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