The Men of the Nation

Justin McCarthy
Chapter XI | Start of Chapter

The Nation newspaper was started in October, 1842. Its founders were Charles Gavan Duffy, John Blake Dillon, and Thomas Davis. Charles Gavan Duffy, who died quite recently, took a leading part in Irish political movements, and was tried more than once on a charge of sedition, though in each case the trial ended in a disagreement of the jury. He sat in the House of Commons for a short time. He emigrated to Australia, entered the Parliament of Victoria, and held high office there, becoming Prime Minister in one administration, and afterwards Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. In his later years he returned to Europe, where he lived for the most part on the Riviera, but he several times revisited England and his native country.

John Blake Dillon was a barrister of large practice in Dublin. After the break up of the political movement with which he was connected he found a refuge in the United States, where he followed the profession of the law with great success. In later years he returned to Ireland, became a member of the House of Commons, and won a distinct reputation there. He died in his native country. The career of Thomas Davis was very short. He died when he had only passed his twenty-ninth year, but he left a name which will always be remembered in his own country and wherever ballad poetry is appreciated. The three men were all very young when they founded the Nation, and they all had high literary gifts, which won the admiration even of their political enemies. The Nation was the expression in prose and verse of the country's yearnings for political emancipation, and for the revival of a native literature; It found readers in every home where Irishmen had national sentiments. The paper was for a long time thoroughly constitutional in its tone, but those who managed it and supported it soon chafed against O'Connell's creed, that no political cause would justify bloodshed. A number of young men began to rise into eminence who refused to accept this doctrine, and the effect of their writings and speeches was to damage severely the influence of O'Connell over the people of Ireland.