Thomas Davis and the "Library of Ireland" - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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What could Repeal take from Irish Protestants that they are not gradually losing ' in due course?'

"However improbable, it is not impossible, that better terms might be made with the Repealers than the government seems disposed to give. A hundred thousand Orangemen, with their colours flying, might yet meet a hundred thousand Repealers on the banks of the Boyne; and, on a field presenting so many reminiscences to all, sign the Magna Charta of Ireland's independence. The Repeal banner might then be Orange and Green, flying from the Giant's Causeway to the Cove of Cork, and proudly look down from the walls of Derry upon a new-born nation."

Eagerly he thus hailed the overture in the Nation

"Here it is at last—the dawning. Here, in the very sanctuary of the Orange heart, is a visible angel of nationality."

He was too sanguine, as we can now all see. He knew not that such threats from Orangeism were meant only to frighten the British Government into "better terms," for Orangeism, for the Established Church, for the "Ascendancy." In the sanctuary of the Orange heart no angel dwells—of the better species.

For a year before his death, Davis had been busy in furthering the preparation of a series of small volumes, called the "Library of Ireland," each of which was to narrate some important period of Irish history, or to present gems of Irish literature, or give a biography of some Irishman of whom we could all be proud. His friends had eagerly responded to his suggestions. MacNevin had written a "History of the Volunteers of 1782;" and Duffy had compiled a volume of National Ballads. He had undertaken himself to write a Memoir of Wolfe Tone; but his other multifarious labours had delayed its preparation, and death cut short the task.

From the last chapter it is apparent that Sir Robert Peel had skilfully thrown elements of discord amongst us; his Colleges Bill, his Papal Rescript, his "message of peace to Ireland," and the like; and that O'Connell and his creatures, as if prompt to aid the Minister, had made Conciliation Hall (and, of course, a thousand minor Conciliation Halls throughout the country) a theatre of angry discussion and recrimination. Davis would gladly have accepted the new Colleges Bill, as he would accept almost any facilities for education. O'Connell and a portion of the clergy denounced it, not because it was an English invention, but because the colleges were to be "godless colleges." John O'Connell, the "Liberator's" son, who had most unaccountably gained much ascendancy over his ...continue reading »

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