Letters of Thomas Davis - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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On returning to his house, he showed me a long row of small volumes—copies of "The Artillerists' Manual"—gave me one of them, and told me that was what we must all study now. I never saw him more.

This chapter I dedicate to the memories of that most royal creature; and thousands who read it will thank me for the minutest anecdote of him. For which reason I shall select, out of many of his letters to myself, two or three. His letters were always short, and he had no time to write long ones. The following note refers to his proposed Memoir of Wolfe Tone; but he was so busy in supplying information and suggestions to his fellow-labourers, that he had no leisure to apply himself to regular literary labour; and as for his editorial articles, he often wrote them with a pencil, using for a desk the top of his hat.

"No. 1.—(Postmark, July 7, 1845).

"MY DEAR MITCHEL,—James Duffy's advertisement is wrong. I cannot have the Tone then; and what between the Nation, and the bigots, and the quantity of exercise needed to keep me in health, there is small chance of my writing at all for the series, though I would greatly like to do so.

"MacNevin's 'Volunteers' has succeeded, though I wish it were more narrative and less speculative;—two thousand copies sold. The series will do, whatever we like with Ireland. When printing your 'Aodh O'Neill,' reconsider the passage on the Reformation. I have not leisure to be accurate, much less infallible.

"The aspect of affairs were better without its sacerdotal Press; but we must bear it. O'C., under Johnny's culture, promises to throw up more bigotry.


"T. D."

I was then living in the County Down, about seventy miles (English), from Dublin, and, like many others, had frequent recourse to Davis for everything I wanted. I ought to have mentioned that I was engaged at that time on one volume of the series in which he took so deep an interest—a Memoir of Aodh O'Neill; and his next letter refers to some inquiries about that, and to an article of mine in the Nation newspaper:—

"JUNE 17th, 1845.

"MY DEAR MITCHEL,—I have written to Petrie for answers to your queries. Meantime borrow (if from no nearer person, from Charles Duffy) the Battle of Magh Rath—vulgo Moira—and you will find a valuable essay on Irish Flags, etc., in the Appendix.

"I entirely agree in your view of Lord Stanley's Bill, and had written to that effect for last Nation—but a thick-skulled printer left my article out. I wish your contributions were more frequent.



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