Playfair and Lindley - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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surprised when I affirm that neither Ireland, nor anybody in Ireland, ever asked alms or favours of any kind, either from England or any other nation or people;—but, on the contrary, that it was England herself that begged for us, that sent round the hat over all the globe, asking a penny for the love of God to relieve the poor Irish;—and further, that, constituting herself the almoner and agent of all that charity, she, England, took all the profit of it.

Before describing the actual process of the "Relief Measures," let us conjecture what would be the natural, obvious, and inevitable course of conduct in a nation which was indeed one undivided nation; France, for example. If blight and famine fell upon the South of France, the whole common revenue of the kingdom would certainly be largely employed in setting the people to labour upon works of public utility; in purchasing and storing, for sale at a cheap rate, such quantities of foreign corn as might be needed, until the season of distress should pass over, and another harvest should come. If Yorkshire and Lancashire had sustained a like calamity in England, there is no doubt such measures as these would have been taken, promptly and liberally. And we know that the English Government is not slow to borrow money for great public objects, when it suits their policy so to do. They borrowed twenty millions sterling to give away to their slave-holding colonists for a mischievous whim. In truth, they are always glad of any occasion or excuse for borrowing money and adding it to the National Debt;—because, as they never intend to pay that debt, and as the stock and debentures of it are in the meantime their main safeguard against revolution, they would be well pleased to incur a hundred millions more at any moment. But the object must be popular in England; it must subserve some purpose of British policy;—as in the case of the twenty millions borrowed to turn negroes wild (set them "free" as it was called)—or the loans afterwards freely taken to crush the people of India, and preserve and extend the opium-trade with China. To make an addition to the National Debt, in order to preserve the lives of a million or two of Celts, would have seemed in England a singular application of money. To kill so many would have been well worth a war that would cost forty millions.

On the first appearance of the blight, the enemy sent over two learned commissioners, Playfair and Lindley, to Ireland, who, in conjunction with Doctor [afterward Sir Robert] Kane, were to examine and report upon potatoes generally, their ...continue reading »

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