My Life in Two Hemispheres/Chapter 10
THE FAMINE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES TILL THE DEATH OF O'CONNELL
The remedy O'Connell would have proposed in the days of his vigour—The futile remedy he proposed in 1846—Lord Cloncurry's advice—Policy of the Nation—John O'Hagan's advice (note)—Course adopted by Peel's Government—Their fall from Office—Indian corn and the British Navy—Arrival of the Macedonian in Dublin with a gift from the United States—Condition of Ireland in 1847—The Irish Council of Conservatives and Young Irelanders created—Fate of Mitchel's appeal to the Boards of Guardians, and of M'Gee's Native Manufacture movement—Letter from Dr. M'Knight—Advice of the Confederation—Speeches of Mitchel and Duffy—Archbishop Hughes on the famine—Lord George Bentinck's plan—O'Connell's last appearance in the House of Commons—His journey towards Rome—His death—Conduct of the Confederation and the Repeal Association—The General Election of 1847.
I have kept the fearful narrative of physical ruin which fell upon Ireland at this time apart from the political conflicts, which it dwarfed and overshadowed. The Famine, foretold from time to time as probable, announced itself unequivocally in the autumn of 1845; the potato crop was more or less blighted in almost every county in the island, and before winter set in to rot in the ground. An eminent physician warned the country that famine was not the worst danger they had to anticipate; it had been noted for a hundred years that famine was invariably followed by fever and pestilence, from which no class escaped. The potato blight was not confined to Ireland; it had appeared in many places in Europe and America, notably in Germany and the Low Countries, and in Canada and the United States; but in Ireland alone the food of the industrious millions was exclusively the potato. How this calamity could be best resisted appealed to the benevolence and statesmanship of the country. An alarm meeting was held in Dublin, where O'Connell in his primal vigour, free from the influence of Whig intrigue and the selfish prompting of his worthless son, the O'Connell of the Catholic struggle, listening only to the instincts of his heart, would probably have said, "This island rears more cattle and corn than will feed all its people. The first claim on the harvest and the herds is the daily bread of those who reared them. We do not ask you to open the ports, but to shut them fast. No food must leave this island till the industrious people are fed—a precaution which has been taken by the legislature in all the self-governed countries in Europe threatened with famine. A national calamity must be met by a national sacrifice. No inordinate proportion of it ought to fall on the landlord. The law can distribute it fairly by and by. But meantime the people must eat. You have a great army and munitions of war, and we are an unarmed multitude; but I warn you, you must kill us before you create a famine by carrying away the food of the people." What he did was to demand remedies which, if he still stood at the head of a united nation able to impose them, would have been totally inadequate. He suggested that the exportation of cereals to foreign countries should be prohibited, that distillation should cease till the famine had disappeared, and that the ports should be opened to foreign corn. To bear the cost of these remedies he thought an income tax ought to be imposed at the rate of 10 per cent, on resident proprietors, and 50 per cent, on absentees. But opening the ports was entirely unnecessary, as the country produced more food than it consumed, and the prohibition against exporting cereals would have been precaution enough, had he not rendered it abortive by the proviso that the prohibition should not extend to England, to which the great bulk of our food supplies was in fact carried. He excused this exception by a statement which nobody but O'Connell could have made with impunity. "I do not mean," he added, "to suggest any prohibition to the exportation of food between England and Ireland; in fact, it is possible we may get more from England than we send there," a statement as marvellous as if he affirmed that Newcastle gets more coal from Ireland than she sends to it. Lord Cloncurry spoke at the same meeting, with the real voice of the country; he insisted that exportation of food to England ought to be specially prohibited, and he declared that he was ready to apply his entire income towards the task of averting this national calamity. The proposals of the alarm meeting were carried to the Lord Lieutenant for submission to the English Government, but nothing whatever came of them. The exportation of food was forbidden in all the countries of Europe where the potato blight was threatened, except in Ireland, where it was the only alternative to famine. The Evening Mail and the landlord Press in general were of opinion that this danger was grossly exaggerated, and was in part the work of dishonest persons who wanted to evade paying their rent. The landlords improved the occasion by seizing the harvest universally, and more corn was exported to England during that winter than in any similar period of which a record exists. The Nation insisted over and over again, if there was a famine, it would be a famine created by the landlords. They might be called upon to make large sacrifices, but they would be sacrifices to save a people who had created all their wealth. It was the law of nature and of God, we insisted, for the landlord's claim for rent does not accrue till the farmers and farm labourers are supplied with daily bread. But the Government, who were supported by the class of which the Evening Mail was the spokesman, held a different opinion. The calamity, they insisted, did not furnish any adequate reason for interrupting the ordinary course of law, and rents must be paid. The suffering people, when no hope came to them from any quarter, made vain attempts to retain the harvest, and broke into what were called agrarian outrages, instigated by suffering and desperation. The Government proposed the old futile remedy, which had failed a hundred times, a Coercion Bill. Lord John Russell, on behalf of the Opposition, tendered them his support in this benevolent design, but Disraeli exhorted the Protectionists, who had by this time arrayed themselves into a solid opposition, to refuse. They did refuse, and Lord John Russell, who saw a sudden prospect of office, recanted his opinions on Coercion and aided them to defeat the Government. It was now that the Whigs came in, and O'Connell's quarrel with the Young Irelanders, as already described, came to a crisis. From that time his remedy for the famine was confidence in the Government; it would do all that could be done if the people were peaceful and patient. As the calamity increased Mr, John O'Connell repeatedly declared that if the people would only refrain from violence, the Repeal of the Union and the fruition of all their hopes was near at hand.
It was urged on the new Government that as the food of the country was withdrawn, and some substitute must be found if the people were not to perish universally, Indian corn ought to be purchased in large quantities. It was selling in the port of London at 30s. a quarter, but half of this sum was freightage, as it could be bought at Chicago for 16s. a quarter. If large quantities were purchased in America, and brought home in the ships of the Royal Navy, a double supply could be obtained for the same expenditure. Lord John Russell, whose vision never ranged beyond the interests of the Whig Party, was warned that he would lose much support by interfering with private enterprise. The corn factors of Mark Lane, and the ship-owners of Liverpool and Southampton, hoped to make great fortunes by the public calamity, and the Minister declared that he would not interfere with them. The price of Indian corn immediately doubled, and went on increasing till more than half of the fund subscribed by the benevolent or voted by Parliament was wasted in yielding to English ship-owners and corn merchants profits which could have been altogether saved, and might have gone to preserve human lives. Ships of war were pronounced by the Admiralty to be altogether unfit for carrying corn, and while this official placebo was still being debated in Dublin there sailed into the port a ship of war named the Macedonian, loaded with corn presented by the United States as a gift to the Irish people. The Macedonian had become a prize to the American arms in the last war, and it was naturally remarked that the only way to make a British frigate capable of carrying corn to Ireland was that it should fall into the hands of the foreign enemy. Our submission to this shameful wrong in silent indignation was a natural result of the Whig compact. A year earlier Ireland occupied a position more commanding than she had attained at any time since the Union. The bulk of the nation was organised into a disciplined and obedient army. The United States, through her President and conspicuous statesmen, and France through her natural leaders, proffered warm sympathy with her desire for complete self-government. The Liberal Irish members who had not accepted the Repeal pledge were labouring zealously to effect other reforms, the great Whig magnates in Ireland took occasion to declare that large concessions were just and necessary, and the Whig leaders in England published a manifesto proposing that the Imperial Parliament should meet in Ireland every third year, and projected large reforms in the land code and the ecclesiastical establishment. Before such a nation, strong, resolute, and triumphant, it is impossible to conceive the murderous ravages of the famine prevailing for one week, but the leader of the people allied himself with the Government, and his policy was submission.
I have written elsewhere in detail for those who care to read the history of this dire calamity, and the efforts made in vain to stimulate the people into saving themselves. What we wanted was a National organisation capable of speaking with authority both to the Government and the people, and that effectual weapon had been taken out of our hands. I will cite from my former narrative only one passage describing the state of the country when the secession took place:—
"The condition of Ireland at the opening of the year 1847 is one of the most painful chapters in the annals of mankind. An industrious and hospitable race were now in the pangs of a devouring famine. Deaths of individuals, of husband and wife, of entire famili es, were becoming common. The potato blight had spread from the Atlantic to the Caspian, but there was more suffering; in one parish of Mayo than in all the rest of Europe. From Connaught, where distress was greatest, there came batches of inquests, with the horrible verdict 'Died of starvation.' In some cases the victims were buried 'wrapped in a coarse coverlet,' a coffin being too costly a luxury. The living awaited death with a listlessness which was at once tragic and revolting. Women, with dead children in their arms, were seen begging for a coffin to bury them. At Skibbereen, in the fruitful county of Cork, whose seaports were thronged with vessels laden with corn, cattle, and butter for England, the rate-collector told a more tragic tale. Some houses were found deserted—the owners had been carried to their graves. In one cabin there was no other occupant than three corpses; in a once prosperous home a woman and her children had lain dead and unburied for a week; in the fields a man was discovered so fearfully mangled by dogs that identification was impossible. The Relief Committee of the Society of Friends described the state of the town in language which was hard to read with dry eyes. The people were dying of the unaccustomed food which mocked their prayer for daily bread, and were carried to the graveyard in a coffin from which the benevolent strangers who had come to their relief had to drop them like dead dogs that they might be a covering for the next corpse in its turn:—
"This place is one mass of famine, disease, and death. The poor creatures, hitherto trying to exist on one meal per day, are now sinking under fever and bowel complaints, unable to come for their soup, which is not fit for them. Rice is what their whole cry is for, but we cannot manage this well, nor can we get the food carried to the houses from dread of infection. I have got a coffin, with moveable sides, constructed to convey the bodies to the churchyard in calico bags prepared, in which the remains are wrapped up. I have just sent this to bring the remains of a poor creature to the grave, who, having been turned out of the only shelter she had—a miserable hut—perished the night before last in a quarry."
"The people saw the harvest they had reared carried away to another country without an effort, for the most part, to retain it. The sole food of the distressed class was Indian meal, which had paid freight and storage in England, and had been obtained in exchange for English manufactures. Under a recent law, framed with malice propense, a peasant who accepted public relief forfeited his holding; and thousands were ejected under this cruel provision. But landowners were not content with one process alone; they closed on the people with ejectments, turned them on the roads, and plucked down their roof-trees. In more than one county rents falling due in November for land, which no longer yielded food to the cultivator, were enforced in January. In the South-West the peasantry had made some frantic efforts to clutch their harvest and to retaliate for their sufferings in blind vengeance—but the law carried a sharp sword. Eight counties or parts of counties were proclaimed, and a Special Commission, after a brief sitting in Clare and Limerick, left eleven peasants for the gallows."
The Nation insisted on the duty of retaining the food in the country, and reiterated its conviction that if the National organisation was still strong and unbroken they could, and ought, to forbid exportation if Parliament would not. The philosophy of our duty was, it seemed to me, very simple. If Ireland was an integral part of the Empire, the resources of the Empire ought to be freely applied to her protection; if she was only a conquered province, she owed the same fidelity to the Empire that a prisoner owes to his jailor. But the young men were impeded at every step by the base falsehood which represented them as agents of anarchy, and Conciliation Hall was ready on the first alarm to point them out as dabbling in the blood of the people. The Parliament and the Government, the people were assured, would protect them, and Repeal could not be far distant if only they turned a deaf ear to these tempters. The young men exhausted all peaceful means of help. We personally appealed to the young Conservatives, and Smith O'Brien appealed to the more generous landlords, to shelter their fellow-countrymen from destruction. Butt and Lefanu answered promptly, and Ferguson and Sir Colman O'Loghlen united with them and us in getting together an Irish Council with the sole purpose of inducing the Government and the people to combat the famine. But the Government were deaf, and little was effected. The Irish Council associates itself in my memory with failures sometimes ludicrous. For example, Mitchel, who became chairman of a Sub-committee of Food Supplies, proceeded with a confidence in the middle classes which was ill-bestowed. He sent a circular to the Boards of Guardians throughout the island, summoning each of them to furnish an estimate of the quantity of food produced in the district. The guardians had no training in this sort of work, and it may be doubted if O'Connell, in the height of his power, or the Local Government Board at any time, could have extracted such a return from them. What happened in this case was that not so much as one Board of Guardians in the island sent an answer to the appeal. They neither aided us nor explained their refusal, tut from Donegal to the Cove of Cork ignored the application altogether. The other failure was D'Arcy M'Gee's. He took a strong interest in the Dublin artisans, and thought they might be helped by a pledge to use only national manufacture, and had his design entirely ruined by a dishonest stroke apparently intended to promote it. O'Gorman Mahon, who since the decay of O'Connell had been gradually stealing back into public life, was one of the tellers on a division, and reckoned the ayes in this fashion—" Twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, forty, forty-one," and so on. " By G——, sir," he whispered to M'Gee, " I have added ten to your score." M'Gee knew the value of a majority so obtained, and the project was carried no further.
Out of this friendly association, and under the influence of Smith O'Brien, no doubt, many of the gentry began to talk a sort of conditional and speculative nationality. If England did so and so, and Irish Nationalists did something else, then we should see what we should see. A few of them certainly meant serious work, notably Ross of Bladensburg, Mr. Chetwode, a man of English birth, and John George Adair, a cultured young squire just entering upon manhood, and who seemed destined to follow in the footsteps of Arthur O'Connor and Edward Fitzgerald. But the French Revolution, when it came, extinguished this patriotism in a panic, except in the case of Adair, who persevered steadily. At a later period, however, the murder of his land agent drove him to savage reprisals, but I have never doubted that at this time he was full of the spirit which possessed his class in 1782. Ferguson's confidence in some immediate help from the gentry outlasted that of his companions. It was pathetic to witness his continual and quite hopeless efforts to inflame their patriotism, like a man labouring to kindle a vesta by rubbing the end where there was no phosphorus. While I still hoped in the Council I endeavoured to interest the Northern Tenant-Righters in it, but Dr. M'Knight, who was now residing in Derry, as editor of the Derry Standard, had no confidence in the landlords, and was not prepared, like the Southern Tenant-Righters, for a national movement. He was perhaps the most influential layman in Ulster, as he afterwards effectually proved himself; but he was the sort of Northern Presbyterian of which Englishmen know nothing. A man with a warm sympathy for the old literature of the country, with an equal contempt for greedy landlords and the retinue of "mean whites," with which the Orange lodges so often furnished them; simply an Irish Presbyterian who loved his native land heartily, but was frightened by the spectre of Popish ascendancy. His time for a public career was coming, but it had not yet come.
"Derry, June 28, 1847.
"Dear Duffy,—I had written the greater part of a letter to you more than a week ago, but did not get it finished, and, more than half-ashamed of the delay which has taken place, I have to begin again de novo.
"Our people are not inclined to associate with the Tenant-Right Association any political object whatever, and if the Minister League advocate Tenant-Right and Repeal, their real objects and those which they profess are widely different. Ours is an association of men of all parties, but if their wishes shall be systematically frustrated there is amongst them spirit enough not to die tamely. If, however, I correctly understand the terms of your note, the Landlord party, who are approximating to your views, are doing so in the expectation of reciprocal support. I am very sure that the Northerns would see every description of nationality everlastingly d——d, which would merely transfer them from one class of social despots to another—from a Landlords' Combination in London to a Landlords' Parliament in Dublin. Daniel O'Connell, during the latter years of his life, repeatedly forsook the people and tried to pander to the landed aristocracy, and if his successors shall adopt a similar line of policy they will inevitably go to—pot. All black-mouthed Presbyterian as I am, I have about me, perhaps, as much of Milesian feeling as the bulk of my countrymen of another class; but except for purposes of poetry I would repudiate a Milesian just as bitterly as a Sassenach landlordism, which should trample down the masses into veritable slavery.
"The 'Irish Council' have taken up one branch of the Tenant-Right agitation, viz., that relating to compensation for improvements, but they have still the subject of 'fixity of tenure' to discuss, and if they put this upon a generous and sufficiently comprehensive basis they will deserve some credit from the country. I am glad to see my old schoolfellow, Sam Ferguson, beginning to 'look alive' in public. He is a right clever fellow, and I hope he is succeeding in his profession. I have not seen his pamphlet noticed in the last Nation, and to which Chalmers refers in the North British Review. If he would send me a copy I would review it for him according to its merits.
"Is there anything doing in the way of Celtic literature? I have had no opportunity of adding to my small stock of Irish books, and with the exception of Walsh's late work, one half of which is a slavish reprint from Hardiman, the publishers do not send me works of this description—a neglect which, on their part, is very absurd. At one time you hinted something about the publication of a comprehensive Irish Dictionary—I wish something of this kind was undertaken by competent hands, on the plan of the great work published by the Highland Society of Scotland. Above all things the ancient dialects ought to be systematised and preserved, as their importance is incalculable for the purposes of comparative philology.
"We are to have another Tenant-Right Meeting on Wednesday, but it will be a business rather than an oratorical assemblage.—I am, dear Duffy, with sincere regard, very truly yours,
When help through the Council became hopeless we fell back on the Confederation, and counselled the farmers to hold their harvests till the wants of their families were supplied. The harvest grown on the farm ought to feed the cultivator before the landlord or the State had any claim. If a universal determination to uphold this right sprang up it would become altogether irresistible. I will merely quote extracts from two speeches delivered on the same day; those who need ampler details know where to find them. At a meeting of the Confederation held in April, Mitchel, who was chairman, put the case in a nutshell:—
"If Ireland yields produce enough to feed eight millions, what particular eight millions in the world have the first claim upon it? Now, it is fit that it should be known there are in Ireland some men at least who would solve that question in favour of the eight Irish millions, and who, if those same millions happen to be of that opinion too, will help them to make it good."
In moving the first resolution I developed this thesis in the plainest language I could employ:—
"England at this hour is teeming with wealth and plenty, yet it is not alleged that she possesses any natural advantages which we do not share. England does not starve. Her people do not die in myriads, or fly with averted eyes from her shore. Has our land no natural rights? Is there some ordinance of God by which we, living in the same latitude and under the same skies, must see our people die of hunger and nakedness! Let us not blaspheme Providence; let us not even blame England; the fault is not England's, but our own. It is the right of this Irish people, and their sacred duty, to protect themselves against all aggressors on the face of the earth. And surely the time has come, while we still suffer under one calamity and await another, to determine the cause of our misery, and to take measures for our protection. The time has fully arrived when the country should come together, by some adequate representatives, and say, in the solemn voice of a nation, 'We can endure no more, we can look on this desolation no longer; the resources of Ireland belong to the people of Ireland, and henceforth must meet their necessities; and this we will maintain though earth and hell say No!'"
These appeals were unsuccessful; but every one who blames the young men for their failure is invited to put himself in their position, and say what he could have done that was better. Not only the British Government, resting on a large army, the gentry, and official classes, but the traders and shopkeepers, were opposed to decisive measures, and the persons who spoke in the name of the National Organisation were vehement in the assurance that only a little more patience was necessary, and all would be well. A gifted and patriotic Irish ecclesiastic in a foreign country uttered what may be regarded as the morale of the question whether the Irish were bound to die of starvation in the midst of plenty. "In a crisis like the famine (said Archbishop Hughes, of New York) the Irish may submit to die rather than violate the rights of property; but if such a calamity should ever happen (which God forbid) the Scotch will not submit, the English will not submit, the French will not submit, and depend upon it the Americans will not submit." Help from O'Connell was no longer to be counted on. There was a great decay in his physical power, and he spoke rarely, and to little purpose. In February he went to Parliament accompanied by his son, and the remnant of the Association became Bedlamite under the control of the Head Pacificator. The country scarcely supplied Repeal Rent enough to pay the weekly expenses of the hired claque who usurped the places once occupied by the leaders of the people.
A gleam of hope came from an unexpected quarter. Lord George Bentinck informed Smith O'Brien that he had a plan for employing and feeding the famishing people in Ireland which was approved of by George Stephenson and the greatest railway authorities in the empire, and by the directors of the leading railway companies in Ireland. It was proposed to make loans out of the funds wasted on useless and ridiculous roads to Irish railway companies, who would undertake to employ the labouring classes at just wages, erect substantial huts for them near their work, and carry out a wisely designed scheme of railway extension. There was no risk, for the Irish railways were actually more prosperous than the English ones, and the money now squandered would be turned to national profit. He wished it to be distinctly understood that the motion was to have no political consequences. The plan was so just and satisfactory, that Mr. John O'Connell could not take the responsibility of opposing it, but the ruck of Repeal members, with Mr. Dillon Browne at their head, supported Lord John Russell, who obtained the rejection of the plan. When his constituents at the General Election assailed Mr. Browne for this treachery to Irish interests, he declared that O'Connell had secretly counselled the course he took, but it is possible and desirable to disbelieve the statement.
O'Connell attended Parliament, his spirit deeply tormented, I make no doubt, by the calamities of the people whom he had led so long, and humiliated by the failure of his alliance with the Whigs. But it was so hard to retreat. He had accepted favours for his family and friends from the Government, and he had repeatedly pledged himself for their good intentions; but the feeble, frigid Minister upon whom he had conferred power thought only of securing votes, and sacrificed the lives of the starving people to the interests of his commercial constituents in England. O'Connell spoke once in Parliament, and the assembly where he had dominated of old beheld a feeble old man muttering, in a voice which was scarcely audible to the reporters, on the perils of the famine—a subject on which the trump of an archangel could scarcely peal an adequate alarm. His medical advisers insisted that he should take rest in a better climate, and he set out on a journey for Rome. It was insisted at Conciliation Hall that he would soon return in restored health and vigour, and the Young Irelanders knew nothing to the contrary.
The only altogether reliable information we had was from Frederick Lucas, and he thought O'Connell was not so ill as he believed himself to be. He wrote to John O'Hagan at this time:—
"I have seen O'Connell. He is really ill, and supposes himself to be gradually breaking up. He attends to politics no more than is absolutely necessary, and spends every vacant moment in prayer and spiritual reading. At the best, however, he is so bad that I really think every unfriendly allusion (even indirect) to him in the Nation ought in good feeling to be suppressed."
Lucas's letter also reported some palaver of John O'Connell's about his good intentions for the future, which time proved to be entirely futile.
Lucas was willing to transfer the Tablet to Dublin if John O'Hagan would become his partner in the undertaking, as it needed two or more men to conduct such a journal, and one of them ought to be an Irishman. O'Hagan's uncle and elder brother would not hear of his relinquishing his profession, and the proposed partnership had to be abandoned. The impediments to Lucas's transfer of the Tablet to Ireland were not overcome at that time, but five years later, as we shall see. It was in this tragic era, a few weeks after Lucas's letter, when all hope of saving the people had disappeared, that news came across the sea for which no one was prepared. O'Connell had died in a foreign city on his way to Rome.
This announcement naturally created a profound sensation. The Confederates were of opinion that they ought to remember the early career of the dead Tribune, and forget as far as it was possible the disastrous story of his later years. In this spirit the Council, who, man by man, had been ejected from the Repeal Association on false pretences, ordered that the Confederates should attend the funeral and wear mourning for a month, but Mr. John O'Connell caused their proposed co-operation to be rejected, and kept the dead body of his father unburied for three months to increase the reaction. The device was not unsuccessful; the favour of the fickle multitude came back foaming and surging like a returning tide.
Under these untoward circumstances came the opportunity to which all Repealers who had any confidence in constitutional methods relied for advancing the National cause, a General Election, but nothing was prepared. The long-delayed funeral kept up the public irritation, and in truth O'Connell's death had created a startling revulsion of opinion. In the towns there was an immovable party who adhered to the Confederates, but in the rural districts all their popularity was forgotten in a moment. The Munster peasantry, who have the romance and vehemence of meridionals, would remember only the services of the lost leader. They flew, indeed, into one of the mad rages which nations sometimes suffer for their sins. They believed that the Young Irelanders had killed their leader, and they would not hear of them as candidates. Meagher tried his native city, and was beaten by a nominal Repealer, whose public services had consisted in smuggling a dozen of his relations into the Civil Service. O'Gorman was proposed at Limerick, and his proposer, Father Kenyon, was with difficulty rescued by brother priests from the savage violence of the mob. Here and there our friends intimated that they could secure the election of a new man recommended by the Confederation, but that the candidates they would prefer were for the present impossible. Smith O'Brien brought us a group of young men from whom he believed much might reasonably be expected. They were Englishmen for the most part, but men of cultured capacity, and unequivocal Repealers. Their leader was David Urquhart, who had already addressed an English constituency as a Repealer. One of his aides-de-camp was Ross of Bladensburg, a kinsman of Lord Massarene and Lord Dufferin. Mr. Chisholm Anstey, a barrister of Tasmanian birth, was Urquhart's chief reliance for a Parliamentary campaign. After much consultation he was sent to Mallow, and got elected. Smith O'Brien, whose old constituency would not desert him, and this English candidate were the only members of the Confederation sent to Parliament.
John O'Connell and the mass of the old Repeal Association had no money and no suitable candidates. New men who had only joined the Association a few days and paid a subscription of £5 (known in those days as "Five-pound Repealers") were sent to constituencies, and often succeeded by the aid of O'Connell's name. Dillon- Browne, Somers, and the old gang of disreputable Irish members came in with a rush; and of all that O'Connell had promised to strengthen and elevate the national delegation nothing was done.
- Dr., afterwards Sir Dominic Corrigan.
- John O'Hagan, the most moderate, considerate, and scrupulous of the young men, expressed their deep conviction in language which deserves to be remembered:—
"Heaven, that tempers ill with good, when it smote our wonted food,
Sent us bounteous growth of grain sent to pauper slaves in vain!
We but asked in deadly need, 'Ye that rule us, let us feed
On the food that's ours'; behold! adder-deaf and icy cold!
Were we, saints of Heaven! were we, how we burn to think it—FREE!
Not a grain should leave our shore, not for England's golden store;
They who hunger where it grew, they whom Heaven hath sent it to,
They who reared with sweat of brow they, or none, should, have it now."
- This is an extract from the report of W. T. Forster, afterwards Chief Secretary for Ireland, at that time a young Quaker full of benevolence and humanity.
- "Four Years of Irish History."