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Chapter LX, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 7 page 2

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Lord Brougham regarded the state of things in Ireland with the eye of a political philosopher and economist. "It had been said," remarked the noble lord, "that one reason why Ireland did not prosper was, that no capital flowed into the country. This was very true, but no one could be surprised at it, considering the alarming and threatening aspect of affairs in that country. The capitalist naturally objected to send his capital to a country where he does not know that there may not be an outbreak before he gets his first quarter's payment. There is also this other thing which alarms capitalists - they hear these friends of the Irish people boasting of their meetings, and of their being able to command their hundreds of thousands of men. They see the power which they thus boast of used for the purpose of carrying on the most vehement attacks against the Government, and uttering the most violent abuse of the nation to which those capitalists themselves belong. The Celtic capital being little, and the poverty excessive, and the demand of the Celt for the capital of the Saxon being extreme; the wise Celt having for his object to lessen the excessive poverty, and draw some portion of the Saxon capital to supply the Celtic wants; this wise and judicious friend of Ireland, in order to effect his object, deals from one end of the year to the other in the most gross and unrestrained abuse of everything Saxon, and proclaims Saxon England as the determined enemy of Celtic Ireland. This is the Irish way of inducing English capitalists to send over their money to Ireland. Now, your capitalists like large masses of produce, of gold or silver, but not large masses of people - large masses of people, too, who are collected together under a pretence which he knows must necessarily be false. For when a man tells me of' his addressing 200,000 men, I find it impossible to believe him. When he tells me that the 200,000 men whom he proposes to address, meet calmly to discuss a great national question, I at once turn with contempt, scorn, and disgust from such a statement, because I know it to be physically impossible that at a meeting composed of such immense numbers anything like discussion can take place. I very well know what that object is, but the capitalist thinks it is for the purpose of breaking the peace. I do not my self believe so. I think that so long as the agitators can hold the issue of those meetings in their hands, they will be the last to risk their own safety. But this system of intimidation is not without its effects.

It deters the lawful and well-disposed from coming forward, and doing their duty to the country, and rallying round the Government. It prevents them from raising their voice, as they would do against Repeal."

Mr. Smith O'Brien, early in July, gave occasion for another great debate on the state of Ireland, by moving that the House resolve itself into a committee for the purpose of taking into consideration the causes of the discontent prevailing there, with a view to the redress of grievances, and the establishment of a system of just and impartial government in that part of the United Kingdom. The honourable gentleman reviewed the history of the country since the Union, discussed the questions of the National Debt and taxation, the Church Establishment, the position of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, Government appointments, coercive acts, and land tenure. Lord Eliot, then Chief Secretary of Ireland, answered his arguments at length. A great number of speakers followed, continuing the debate for five nights. At length the House divided, when the numbers were - against the motion for a committee, 243; for it, 164. The whole of these vexed questions again came up on the 9th of August, when the Irish Arms Bill was set down for the third reading. On this occasion Sir Robert Peel made some remarks, expressing the feeling of his Government with regard to Ireland, declaring that he viewed the state of things there with deep anxiety and pain. He had hoped that there was a gradual abatement of animosity on account of religious differences; that he saw the gradual influence of those laws which removed the political disabilities of Roman Catholics and established civil equality. He thought he saw, in some respects, a great moral and social improvement; that there was a hope of increasing tranquillity, which would cause the redundant and superfluous capital of England, then seeking vent in foreign and precarious speculations, to flow into Ireland. But the agitation had blasted all those hopes.

The third reading of the Arms Bill passed by a majority of 66. It speedily went through the Upper House, and received the royal assent. In the royal speech at the close of the session, there was a very pointed reference made to the state of Ireland. Her Majesty said that she had observed with the deepest concern the persevering efforts made to stir up discontent and disaffection among her subjects in Ireland, and to excite them to demand the repeal of the Union; and from her deep conviction that the Union was not less essential to the attainment of good government in Ireland than to the strength and stability of the empire, it was her firm determination, with the support of Parliament, and under the blessing of Divine Providence, to maintain inviolate that great bond of connection between the two countries. She thus concluded, "I feel assured that those of my faithful subjects who have influence and authority in Ireland, will discourage to the utmost of their power a system of pernicious agitation which disturbs the industry and retards the improvement of that country, and excites feelings of mutual distrust and animosity between different classes of my people."

This royal denunciation of the Repeal movement greatly exasperated O'Connell. He had recently submitted a plan to the Repeal Association, recommended by a committee of which he was chairman, for the restoration of the Irish Parliament. In the document containing this plan, it was declared that the people of Ireland finally insisted upon the restoration of the Irish House of Commons, consisting of 300 representatives, and claimed, in "the presence of the Creator," the right of the Irish people to such restoration, stating that they submitted to the Union as being binding in law, but solemnly denied that it was founded on right, or on constitutional principle, or that it was obligatory on conscience. The franchise was to be household suffrage, and the voting by ballot. It was also provided that the monarch or regent de jure in England should be the monarch or regent de facto in Ireland. This revolutionary scheme was to be carried into effect, "according to recognised law and strict constitutional principle." The arbitration courts which O'Connell had threatened to setup, in consequence of the superseding of magistrates connected with the Repeal Association, had actually been established; and the Roman Catholic peasantry, forsaking the regular tribunals, had recourse to them for the settlement of their disputes.

The Repeal organisation had therefore become exceedingly formidable, and had been rendered still more so by what O'Connell called "the mighty moral miracle of 5,000,000 men pledged against intoxicating liquors." If he had to go to battle, he said, he should have the strong and steady teetotalers with him. The teetotal bands " would play before them, and animate them in the time of peril; their wives and daughters, thanking God for their sobriety, would be praying for their safety; and he told them there was not an army in the world he could not beat with his teetotalers. Yes, teetotalism was the first sure ground on which rested their hope of sweeping away Saxon domination and giving Ireland to the Irish." O'Connell had been in the habit of wearing a crown-like cap, richly ornamented, which had been presented to him at the monster meeting at the Rath of Mullaghmast, in the County Kildare. This symbol of sovereignty had its effect upon the masses, who began to cherish the idea that they might have ere long a king of their own. It was probably with a view to encourage this idea, and to raise their enthusiasm to the highest pitch, that he resolved to hold the last of the series of monster meetings at Clontarf, near Dublin, the scene of King Brian Borohme's victory over the Danes. This meeting was to be held on Sunday, the 8th of October, and was to be the most imposing of all the demonstrations. But the Government was at last roused to action, and on the previous day a proclamation was issued by the Lord Lieutenant in Council, prohibiting the assembly, The proclamation declared that whereas advertisements and placards had been printed and extensively circulated, calling on those who proposed to attend the meeting to come on horseback, to meet and form in procession, and to march in military order and array; and whereas the object of the meeting was to excite discontent and disaffection, hatred and contempt of the Government of the country, and to accomplish alterations in the laws and constitution of the realm, by intimidation and the demonstration of physical force, tending also to serve the ends of factious and seditious persons, and violate the peace, the meeting was strictly prohibited. It was stated that those attending it should be prosecuted, and that effectual measures should be taken for its dispersion.

This was no idle threat; the guards at the castle and at the several barracks were doubled; Alborough House, commanding the road to Clontarf, was garrisoned; the streets and roads at the north side of the city were patrolled by parties of soldiers during the night. Three war steamers were placed in the river, with their guns run out, commanding the ground where the meeting was to be held; while the guns at the Pigeon House fort at the mouth of the river, right opposite Clontarf, were so placed as to sweep the road to it. The village of Clontarf was occupied by the 5th Dragoon Guards, the 60th Rifles, the 11th Hussars, the 54th Regiment of Infantry, and a brigade of Royal Horse Artillery; the infantry being commanded by Colonel Fane, the cavalry by Lord Cardigan, and the artillery by Colonel Higgins. The men and horses were provisioned for twenty-four hours, and each soldier was furnished with sixty rounds of ball cartridge. A crisis had now come; a collision between the troops and O'Connell's army of teetotalers was imminent, and even he could have no doubt of the issue. He seemed to stand appalled on the edge of the precipice to which he had brought his deluded followers, and shrinking from the consequences, he made all possible haste to save them. As soon as the proclamation was issued, he called a special meeting of the Repeal Association, and announced that in consequence of the measures taken by the Government, which he denounced as " the most base and imbecile step ever taken," there would be no meeting at Clontarf the next day. He submitted a counter-proclamation, which was adopted and posted up that evening throughout the city beside the Government proclamation. It was also sent by special messengers to the neighbouring towns and villages. The following is a copy of this curious document: - " Notice. - Whereas there has appeared, under the signature of G. B. Sugden, C. Donoughmore Eliot, F. Blackburne, G. Blakeney, Fred. Shaw, T. B. C. Smith, a paper, being, or purporting to be, a proclamation drawn up in very loose and inaccurate terms, and manifestly misrepresenting known facts, the object of which appears to be to prevent the public meeting intended to be held to-morrow, the 8th instant, at Clontarf, to petition Parliament for the repeal of the hateful and destructive measure of the legislative Union; and whereas such proclamation has not appeared until late in the afternoon of this day, Saturday, the 7th instant; so that it is utterly impossible that the knowledge of its existence could be communicated in the usual official channels, or by the post, in time to have its contents known to the persons intending to meet at Clontarf for the purpose of petitioning as aforesaid; whereby ill-disposed persons may have an opportunity, under colour of said proclamation, to provoke breaches of the peace, or commit violence on persons intending to proceed peacefully and legally to said intended meeting; we, therefore, the Committee of the Royal National Repeal Association, do most earnestly request and entreat that all well-disposed persons will, immediately on receiving this intimation, repair to their own dwellings, and not place themselves in peril of any collision, or of receiving any ill-treatment whatsoever. And we do further inform such persons that, without yielding in anything to the unfounded allegations in said alleged proclamation, we deem it prudent and wise, and, above all things, humane, to declare that said meeting is abandoned, and is not to be held. - Signed by order. Daniel O'Connell. Saturday, 7th October, 3.30 p.m., 1843."

The preventive measures taken on both sides were completely successful. No mounted Repealers came in from the country, and though vast multitudes went out from Dublin to view the military demonstrations, their meeting with the Queen's forces was, quite amicable. They were allowed to see the spectacle, but they were compelled to move on along the high road, which they did very good-humouredly. At a meeting of the Repeal Association held next day, O'Connell said - "I have to express my delight at the conduct of the people yesterday - they were good-humoured and attentive to our instructions. I have also to express my admiration at the exemplary conduct of the soldiery. Nothing could be more proper than their behaviour; but nothing could be more cruel than to keep the poor fellows standing together all day for nothing. And then there was the pride and pomp of the Lord Lieutenant going to review the army. They assail us with the charge of desecrating the Sabbath; but I wonder what the Lord Lieutenant was doing on Sunday, mounted on his pony, prancing down the road? I speak well of the people and of the soldiery, and my swelling heart beats high for the consummation of the liberty of Ireland."

The Government now resolved to follow up the vigorous step they had so tardily taken, by the prosecution of O'Connell and several leading members of the Association. They were arrested in Dublin on the 14th of „October, charged with conspiracy, sedition, and unlawful assembly. The other gentlemen included in the prosecution were Mr. John O'Connell, Mr. Thomas Steele, Mr. Ray, Secretary to the Repeal Association, Dr. Gray, proprietor of the Freeman's Journal, Mr. C. G. Duffy, editor of the Nation, Mr. Barrett, of the Pilot, and the Rev. Messrs. Tyrrell and Tierney, Roman Catholic priests. Mr. O'Connell, with his two sons and several friends, immediately on his arrest, went to the house of Mr. Justice Burton, and entered into recognisances, himself in £1,000, with two sureties of £500 each. The tone of Mr. O'Connell was now suddenly changed. From being inflammatory, warlike, and defiant, it became intensely pacific, and he used his utmost efforts to calm the minds of the people, to lay the storm he had raised, and to soothe the feelings he had irritated by angry denunciations of the "Saxon." That obnoxious word was now laid aside, being, at his request, struck out of the Repeal vocabulary, because it gave offence. Real conciliation was now the order of the day.

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