MacNevin - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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year that had passed, England had demonstrated that she held in her hand the clue to all those Republican conspiracies, by her post-office espionage; and it was evident that the same Sir James Graham, who had copied the private correspondence of Mazzini and the Bandieras, and laid it all before the King of Naples, could as easily have kept it all to himself. Highly desirable, surely, that "peace, law, and order" in Italy should secure so useful a friend.

In short, the Sacred College sent a Rescript to the Irish clergy, declaring that whereas it had been reported to His Holiness that many of them devoted themselves too much to politics, and spoke too rashly in public concerning affairs of State, they were thereafter to attend to their religious duties. It was carefully given out, in the English Press, that the Pope had denounced the Repeal: if he had done so, nobody would have minded it, because Catholics do not admit his jurisdiction in temporal affairs. Hear how MacNevin, a young Catholic lawyer, spoke of this fulmination on its first appearance, and while yet it was generally believed to be directly aimed against the Repeal agitation:—

"By whom was the Holy Father informed that certain prelates were 'nimium addicti politicis negotiis et minus prudentes de republica,' which I translate Repeal (cheers)? By whose whisperings did he learn that the Bishop of Ardagh or the Priest of Clontibret were too prominent or too imprudent? We are informed, sir, that there is an English emissary,—shall I say spy? It is now an established English functionary,—at Rome (loud cheers). Is his the discretion which guides the Cardinal Prefect of the Propaganda! Do not suppose, for a moment, that I question the supremacy of the Pope in religious matters. Surely nothing is farther from my mind. But, sir, I do question his right to dictate to an Irish clergyman the degree of prominence or prudence with which he shall serve his country. I hope I am not irreverent in doing so. I shall continue to hold my opinion until I am authoritatively informed that he has the right,—then I shall be silent. But I never heard before, and it will be a singular doctrine, in my view of the case, that his holiness can take cognizance of the political movements of the Irish people, and use his influence to disarrange the powers we bring to bear in favour of our liberty (cheers). Now, mark who will applaud this repressive movement the most:—why, the men who for centuries have denounced you, and falsely denounced you, as being under the influence of the temporal power of Rome. They made it high treason to communicate with Rome; they sank to the mean vulgarity of withholding the usual diplomatic relations between European courts; they invented a praemunire to keep out the corruption of the Seven-hilled City; but they are now moving every engine to induce the Pope to lend a hand at suppressing Repeal. I beg to tell them, neither he nor they can do it (tremenduous applause). If our liberty depended on a monarch or ...continue reading »

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