Lord Heytesbury - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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diseases, habits, &c. This passed over the time for some weeks. Parliament was prorogued, and did not meet again until January.

In the meantime the Corporation of Dublin sent a memorial to the Queen, praying her to call Parliament together at an early day, and to recommend the appropriation of some public money for public works, especially railways in Ireland. A deputation from the citizens of Dublin, including the Duke of Leinster, the Lord Mayor, Lord Cloncurry, and Daniel O'Connell, waited on the Lord Lieutenant (Lord Heytesbury), to offer suggestions as to opening the ports to foreign corn at least, for a time, stopping distillation from grain, providing public works, and the like; and to urge that there was not a moment to be lost, as millions of people would shortly be without a morsel of food. The reply of Lord Haytesbury is a model in that kind. He told them they were premature; told them not to be alarmed; that learned men had been sent over from England to enquire into all those matters; that, in the meantime, the Inspectors of Constabulary and Stipendiary Magistrates were charged with making constant reports from their several districts;and there was no immediate pressure on the market;"—finally, that the case was a very important one, and it was evident "no decision could be taken without a previous reference to the responsible advisers of the Crown." In truth, no other answer was possible, because the Viceroy knew nothing of Sir Robert Peel's intentions. To wait for the report of learned men—to wait for Parliament—in short, to wait; that was the sole policy of the enemy for the present. He could wait; and he knew that hunger could not wait.

The Town Council of Belfast met and made suggestions similar to those of the Dublin Corporation; but neither body asked charity. They demanded that, if Ireland was indeed an integral part of the realm, the common exchequer of both islands should be used—not to give alms, but to provide employment on public works of general utility.

The plea of the enemy for not being ready with any remedy was the suddenness of the calamity. Now, it happened that, nearly eleven years before, a certain "Select Committee," composed principally of Irish members of Parliament, had been appointed by the House of Commons to inquire into the condition of the Irish poor. They had reported even then in favour of promoting the reclamation of waste lands; had given their opinion decidedly (being Irish) that there was no real surplus of population, seeing that the island could easily sustain much more than its actual population, and export immensely besides. ...continue reading »

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