O'Connell's Policy

Justin McCarthy
Chapter X | Start of Chapter

He addressed out-of-door meetings in all parts of Ireland—meetings so vast that no voice less powerful than his could have carried the words to the most distant among his audience. He always enforced a certain order and discipline in the arrangement of these immense assemblages, and many of his political opponents maintained that he was quietly drilling his forces for some future attempt at rebellion. But O'Connell always proclaimed that he was the advocate of constitutional reform alone, that he was opposed to the employment of force to obtain any legislative improvement, and that no political cause was worth the shedding of a single drop of blood. This doctrine he endeavoured at a later period of his career to establish as the ruling creed of his party. It is certain that he could at any moment have aroused the people of Ireland to another armed rebellion if he had thought fit to sound the trumpet-call. O'Connell was coming every day more nearly to the position of Irish Dictator. He was already beginning to be called Ireland's uncrowned king. Apart from purely Irish questions, his political views led him into close association with the leading Liberals of England and Scotland, and on several occasions he addressed great public meetings in English and Scottish cities, winning enthusiastic applause, which his magnificent eloquence could hardly have failed to call forth. He was a devoted advocate of the anti-slavery agitation then carried on by leading reformers in these countries as well as in the United States, and on one occasion he refused to receive on his platform in Conciliation Hall an American sympathizer with Repeal because he was known to be a slave owner and a supporter of slavery.