Mitchel's Election

Justin McCarthy
Chapter XI | Start of Chapter

A vacancy shortly afterwards occurred in the Parliamentary representation of the county of Tipperary, and Mitchel in his absence—he had gone back to America—was elected without opposition. He returned to Ireland immediately, but was in such declining health that when he attended a meeting in Cork his speech had to be read for him by John Dillon, then a very young man, son of his old political associate John Blake Dillon, and now a leading member of the Irish party in the House of Commons. An objection was raised to Mitchel taking his seat on the ground that he was a convicted felon who had not worked out his sentence. A long debate took place, the result being that a large majority of votes declared the election void, and ordered the issue of a new writ. A second election took place, and Mitchel was re-elected by a majority of three to one over a Conservative. Mitchel died a few days after the election, at the age of fifty-nine. He was not a practical politician, and he held some opinions which many of his warmest admirers could not accept; but there can be no question of his sincerity, and he was one of the most powerful and brilliant prose writers of his time. The essence of politics, according to Macaulay, is compromise, and compromise was a quality which never belonged to Mitchel's nature.