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Mltchel, John 

An Ulsterman for Ireland 





C|ti CAin-ote FOjiopiAr cAch nt>OfichA: p'ji, 
Aictiet), ecu A. 

Three candles that light up every darkness : 
Truth, Nature, Knowledge. 




158 RATHGAR ROAD. 1917 


. u.n 



JOHN MITCH EL, an Ulster Protestant, 
wrote these letters to the Ulster 
Protestant democracy in April and 
May of 1848. The disgraceful 
Treason-Felony Act had just been enacted, 
enabling the Government to treat Irish 
political offences on a level with the vilest 
crimes. Ireland had just passed through 
three years of famine and famine-fever, the 
unchecked consequences of her ruthless 
Government, and had paid the toll of a 
million Irish lives; and to remedy her condi- 
tion the Imperial Parliament enacted the 
Treason-Felony Act. An indictment for the 
newly invented crime was awaiting Mitchel, 
to his knowledge, at the time when he wrote 
these letters. 

A recent French critic, having studied 
Mitchel's "Jail Journal," has done the 
entente cordiale the service of exposing 
Mitchel as a futile railer with no positive or 
constructive ideas and with no better basis 
for his Nationalism than bitter unreasoning 
rancour against England. I am sorry to 
say that the criticism has been adopted by 
some Irish writers. If after '47 no thought 
had remained in an Irishman's mind but the 

one, " delenda est Carthago" will any- 
one who dares to face the facts of that time 
pretend to be surprised? What surprises 
me in these letters is the extraordinary 
coolness and patience of the man who, 
loving his own country, had seen her suffer 
the horrors of the Famine Years. 

Nor was Mitchel's attitude purely nega- 
tive and non-constructive. He laid down 
clearly the policy that Parnell afterwards 
took up, the policy which Gladstone declared 
to be " marching through rapine to the dis- 
memberment of the Empire " -"to lay the 
axe to the root of this rotten and hideous 
Irish landlordism, that we might see how 
much would come down along with it." 
(p. 36). He saw that the enemy of Ireland 
was " British oligarchy " (p. 36), then in 
strict alliance, offensive and defensive, with 
Irish landlordism and Irish officialism. He 
warned his readers against expecting any 
good thing from the English Parliament or 
the English Government, and told them to 
trust themselves and make ready to defend 
themselves and their right to live and pros- 
per in the land. 

Seventy years ago, this Ulster Protestant 
poured scorn on the No-Popery campaign 
of the Ulster landlords. He showed how 
the English Whig, Lord Clarendon, was 
playing upon Ulster Protestant "loyalty." 
The No- Popery campaign is still the main 
reliance of the British Oligarchy in Ireland, 
and only two years ago the English Liberal, 
Chief Secretary Birrell, was still exploiting 
the " loyalty " of those who (shall we say 
to his bitter grief?) were threatening armed 

resistance to his inoffensive Home Rule 
Act. " The government of Ireland is a 
continuity." With the " Man of Sin " 
held at bay and " loyalty " in full play, let 
us see how the people of Ulster have fared 
during seventy years : 

Ulster had in 1841 a population of 2,386,373 
,, 1851 , 2,011,880 


,, 1871 
,, 1881 
,, 1891 


It will take a great deal of shouting to 
drown the noise of these figures. Even Sir 
Edward Carson, in his new and lucrative 
office of Truth Controller, will not be able 
to keep it up. " Extermination," wrote 
Mitchel, " is creeping northward." Mit- 
chel, the Ulster Protestant, spoke nothing 
but the truth, and suffered for it. The day 
will come, in spite of all the machinery for 
controlling the truth, when Mitchel' s truth 
will prevail among the Protestants of 
Ulster, and when they will sing again 

Belfast, you may remember 
When tyrants were in splendour. 

July, 1917. 


WHEREVER public addresses have been 
heretofore made to you as Protestants 
they were always of one or other of 
these two kinds either they came from your 
leaders, great landlords, Orange Grand Masters 
and such like grandees, and dwelt much on the 
enormities of " Komanism " and the treacherous 
devices of " the Man of Sin," and on the neces- 
sity of strenuously resisting the plots of this 
same "Man of Sin" (who would appear to have 
some horrid designs upon you) or else those 
addresses came from some " agitating " associa- 
tion or other of O'Connell's that wanted your 
help, and so called you gallant fellows, and 
your fathers and grandfathers gallant fellows, 
reminded you of the volunteering, and asked 
you just to volunteer again and follow them,ihe 
agitating associations. 

Neither of these was exactly the thing for 
you. The first showed too much zeal for Pro- 
testantism and too little for Tenant-right, or 
any other right of the poor. The second had 
always a certain air of fawning blarney, besides 
.a suspiciously clerical aspect, that made you 
naturally recoil. The first adviser, for all his 
paternal language and anxiety about "our holy 
religion," if yoii watched him closely, had eject- 
ments hid under his purple sash and orange 
apron the other, with his liberalism and truly 
sincere admiration for your ancestors, appeared 


too often masquerading in a " holy coat of 
Treves" or on his knees before the "venerated 
hierarchy." Neither of them quite met your 

For your case was and is just this the 
farmers are gradually, in Ulster as in other 
provinces, losing hold of the soil, under the 
pressure of poor rates, rents and taxes, and 
becoming labourers; and the labourers and 
artisans, from the excessive competiton of other 
labourers and artisans, are sinking gradually 
into paupers, so that there is a continual sliding 
scale sloping downward to perdition. For every 
ruined farmer there is one destitute labourer the 
more, for every ejected cottier there is another 
pauper on the rates, and the still increasing 
rates weigh down faster and faster continually 
more and more of those who still struggle to 
earn their bread into the class which has given 
up the effort in despair, and thrown itself on the 
earnings of other men. 

Is this or is it not a true statement of the 
case 1 ? And if it be, do you think it is to be 
remedied by a vow to aefend our Protestant 
constitution in Church and State *? It seems to 
me precisely our constitution in Church and 
State that has brought us to this condition 
it certainly was not the Pope of Rome the 
Pope, we know, is the "Man of Sin" and the 
"Antichrist," and also, if you like, the " Mystery 
of Iniquity," and all that, but he brings no 
ejectments in Ireland. The Seven Sacraments 
are, to be sure, very dangerous, but the quarter. 
acre clause touches you more nearly. In short, 
our vicious system of government, and especially 


the infamous land laws, are the machinery that 
has brought you to this pass, and, as the very 
Grand Masters say nothing at all about mending 
these, let them keep their " addresses of loyalty" 
to themselves. 

Then as for the mere " Repealers," they have 
long been asking you to join in an effort to 
restore the Irish Parliament as it stood before 
the Union. That is to say, to place Ireland and 
Irishmen and all that is theirs under the feet 
of the Irish " gentry," instead of the English 
and Irish gentry combined; and then our 
" Repealers " expect you to believe that straight- 
way, on the assembling of Irish peers and 
Irish nominees of peers in College Green, by 
some magic or other, tenant-right and the rights 
of industry will be at once guaranteed to the 

This kind of babble you have hitherto very 
properly neglected and despised. While a 
landlord Parliament rules over Ireland, whether 
the same sit in College Green or in Westminster, 
no popular rights will ever be acknowledged by 
" law." This is a fundamental axiom in politics ; 
if any of you doubted it before, I hope that the 
manner in which you have been defrauded in 
the matter of Tenant-right within the last four 
years has at length convinced that doubter. 
Four years ago Lord Devon and several other 
landlord-commissioners found that in the North 
there actually was such a " practice " as the 
sale of good-will so much these landlord- 
commissioners were forced to admit ; but 
they took care to call it a mere practice^ 
not a right, and a practice of selling not a right 


to hold and enjoy till you were ready to sell. 
They farther libelled the peaceable farmers of 
the North of Ireland by calling the sale of 
Tenant-right a mere "life insurance," asserting 
that an incoming tenant was always forced to 
pay the price of the outgoing tenant's good 
will, lest he should be murdered, and for that 
reason alone. 

You have, I am sure, attended to the course of 
public affairs since these landlord-commissioners 
made their report: you have seen four successive 
bills brought into Parliament by ministers, 
"both Whig and Tory (they are all the same), 
expressly, avowedly to destroy your tenant-right 
root and branch, to rob you openly of all you 
have in the world, and give you instead a title 
to be compensated for future improvements, 
provided they were effected according to an 
elaborate system of specifications which none of 
you could understand to be compensated, I 
say, for these, or au unexpired interest in 
these, whenever your landlords, the Grand 
Masters, might think proper to turn you out of 
house and home. 

You have also observed, doubtless, the tricks 
of those same ministers (Whig and Tory) to 
evade the discussion of any of Mr. Sharman 
Crawford's bills, by "which an imperfect tenant- 
right would actually have been established ; and 
how, at length, when they could evade it no 
longer, they boldly threw it out, as an infringe- 
ment on the "rights of property." 

And you are further aware that the last 
deliberate attempt to defraud you, that known 
by the name of Sir William Somerville's bill 


instead of being dropped as you were at first 
led to believe, is this very week referred to a 
"select committee" a very select committee 
that they may consider how it may be made to 
act with most effect. 

And all this time, while Parliament and 
ministers are conspiring to rob you by " law '* 
in London, landlords, agents and bailiffs are 
conspiring to nibble away your property by 
a thousand stealthy devices at home. For 
instance, a rule is introduced "on the estate" 
that no tenant shall sell his farm except lo an 
approved tenant or an adjoining tenant. Of 
course this, by restricting the market, lowers 
the price. Then, some landlords are hard to 
please about the tenant they will " approve," 
and keep you calling and calling again, bribing 
agents and bribing bailiffs, and negotiating and 
petitioning, with your hat, not on your head, 
where it ought to be, but in your hand, begging 
leave to sell your own property. Then there is 
a rule introduced now on most estates fixing a 
maximum price for tenant-right you are not 
to get more than a certain sum for it by the 
acre. You bought it perhaps ten or twenty 
years ago at 15 an acre, but the rule of the 
estate now is 10, and you arc robbed of the 
difference and very thankful you must express 
yourself (holding your hat in your hand) for 
being allowed to sell it at that. 

In short, between the feeling of insecurity 
produced by the continual tampering of "law," 
and the constant gnawing and nibbling of land- 
lords and agents at home, and the quarter-acre 
law and the poor law, the " tenant-right of 


Ulster," a property that ought at this moment to 
be worth ten millions, is as good as gone. There 
never were so many ejectments in Ulster 
counties at once as have been brought this very 
spring. Extermination is creeping northward ; 
and there is not in, all the nine counties a single 
small tenant-right farmer who can say with 
confidence that his house is his own. 

Now in such a state of things what ought 
you, the small farmers of Ulster, to do? "Why 
meet legally and constitutionally, I suppose, 
appoint a chairman, hurl defiance at the Pope 
of Rome, express the utmost confidence in Lord 
Clarendon, and demand a revocation of the 
Maynooth grant. 

Or meet, still legally and constitutionally, and 
demand a Parliament of Peers and Nominees 
of Peers in Dublin so that instead of being 
robbed in St. Stephen's you may be robbed in 
" College Green ! " 

For government in this country is simply 
a machinery for grinding out the earnings of 
the industrious to bestow upon the idle. You, 
the small farmers of Ulster, are the men at this 
moment most exposed to robbery, of all the 
industrious inhabitants of Ireland, simply 
because you have most to lose. 

But now I address the Protestant labourers 
and artizans. You, it is said, have the utmost 
confidence in Lord Clarendon, and are so happy 
and contented, sitting everyone of you under 
his own vine and fig tree, that you are ready to 
rise in arms (so I have read in certain addresses) 
full of burning zeal to chastise those "rebellious" 
persons who would change so happy a state of 


things ! Is it so? We are told that the Xorth 
is thriving, because Belfast exports much linen, 
and Derry sends off innumerable boxes of eggs 
and cargoes of corn. How much of the linen 
do you who weave it get to wear 1 ? How much 
of the corn do you ivho sow and reap it get to 
eat ? Just think of this, labourers and artizans 
of Ulster Ireland last year produced twice as 
much as would feed all her inhabitants, not 
with Indian meal, but with good Irish wheat, 
oats and beef. And think of this there is flax 
enough grown and linen cloth enough woven, 
and wool enough shorn in Ireland to muffle up 
every Irishman comfortably, close buttoned to 
the chin. Where does it go ? Who eats and 
who wears what you make ? Who has a better 
right to it than you ? 

Ah ! perhaps it is the Pope of Rome who 
swindles you in this fashion it is the Man of 
Sin, the Seven Sacraments, the Maynooth Grant 
and the Mystery of Iniquity ! Why, then, in 
that case you also, tradesmen and labouring 
men of Ulster, ought really to lose no time in 
holding a meeting to maintain the Protestant 
succession and denounce any further concessions 
to Jezebel. 

It is, indeed, a mystery of iniquity that 
commits this cunning robbery upon you it is 
" our glorious constitution in Church and State " 
that does it one of the blackest mysteries of 
iniquity that ever afflicted men or outraged 
heaven. It is this conspiracy of " gentry " and 
" capitalists," "doing what they like with their 
own" fearing not GOD, neither regarding Man, 
that have established such free trade in human 


bodies and souls that they sit now at ease as 
the gods of this lower world, and by the alembic 
of Money, and the crucible of starvation, extract 
from your blood, and sweat, and brain and 
marrow whatever there is in you marketable, 
whereby they may turn a penny and leave the 
offal of you to the poor houses or the fever 

How this is done you shall hear. The broad 
land of Ireland, which was given to you by GOD, 
has been given by various Kings and Queens of 
England to some few thousand persons, who 
now claim it as absolutely theirs, with the 
growth upon it, and the minerals beneath it, 
and the air above it, "from the centre" so says 
the Law " up to the Heavens." But as you, 
the "millions" and "masses" cannot live with- 
out earth and air, these few thousand persons, 
having a monoply of the articles, and finding 
that men will give anything and do anything 
rather than die of hunger, cry out Free 
trade ! Fair competition ! No interference with 
bargains ! You see these men are willing to 
sell us themselves for slaves, soul and body, for 
so much land, and shall we not purchase? Is it 
not fair supply and demand? 

Thus also capitalists, having by their gigantic 
operations abolished all household and home- 
spun manufactures, and having laws made to 
their hand by the other conspirators " the 
gentry " enabling them to combine, and 
forbidding poor men to combine against them 
under penalties, can wring out of the working 
classes (by the same enlightened system of 
fair competition) their health and strength 


and life can take the pick and choice of them 
use them up and fling them on a dunghill to 
die when they are useless. 

Our great capitalists never think of manu- 
facturing articles for their own countrymen in 
the home market they must compete with 
foreign nations in foreign markets ; and as all 
nations are less heavily taxed than these two 
unfortunate islands, the only way in which 
capitalists can meet the foreign manufacturer is 
by reducing and pinching, and continually 
pinching and reducing the wages of their own 
workmen. They take it all out of your tones. 

Thus it comes to pass that both in the matter 
of food and manufactures you can supply foreign 
countries, and cannot keep yourselves and your 
children in food and clothing. 

Now it is not the repeal of the Catholic 
Emancipation Act, nor yet the repeal of the 
Union Act by itself that will cure all this. 
Nothing will cure it save the total overthrow of 
the aristocratic system of government and 
the establishment of the People's inalienable 

We must have Ireland, not for certain peers 
and nominees of peers in College Green, but 
IRELAND FOR THE IRISH. I scorn and spit upon 
"Repeal of the Union." The "Queen, Lords 
and Commons of Ireland" will never be seen in 
bodily form upon this earth. " The golden link 
of the Crown" is as great a humbug as the 
great Peace principle of the " mighty Leader of 
the Irish People." 

Oh ! my countrymen, I would that I could 
raine your thoughts to the height of this great 


argument ; that I could make you know your- 
selves, and your powers and destinies, your 
wrongs and your rights ! 

Your friend and fellow-countryman, 


{From the "United Irishman'' of April 22, 


IN my letter to you last week I set before 
you two or three subjects which it is 
worth your while to reflect upon. First, 
seeing that Ireland produces, one year with 
another, double as much as would feed and 
clothe all her people, what becomes of it? Who 
eats it and wears it, and what (besides our 
glorious Constitution in Church and State) do 
you, who create all this wealth, get in exchange 
for it 1 Second, seeing that your tenant-right 
in the North is in great danger, and that you 
urgently want securities and guarantees to 
prevent its being taken from you altogether, 
who is it that threatens it 1 Who wants your 
tenant-right from you? Against whom do you 
need the securities and guarantees ' Is it 
against farmers of Leinster and Munstert 
Or the Pope of Rome 1 Or who else ? Third, 
seeing that all your grand masters and deputy- 
grands, and grand chaplains, not to speak of 
their agents, drivers, stewards, sub-agents, 
bailiffs, and bog bailiffs, are so anxious to get 
your names to ' addresses of loyalty " and 
declarations of attachment to the "Protestant 
Constitution in Church and State " what is the 
reason of such anxiety just now ? What is it all 
about ? And, above all, what interest have you 
in it? 

If you have not begun to think seriously of 
these questions you had better begin to do so 


without delay. And I will try to help you. 

Your grand master landlords and their agents, 
sub-agents, and bog agents, I have no doubt, 
caution you earnestly against anything I can say 
to you. They tell you that I am a " Jacobin," 
and an " Anarchist," and a "Revolutionist," and 
that I am to take my trial for sedition against 
what they call the " laws of the land." Now, I 
confess that I am i " revolutionist," that is to 
say, I desire by any means, peaceable or other- 
wise, to alter the system of Government and 
distribution of property in. this land, so that men 
willing to earn their bread may have leave and 
opportunity to earn it so that those who till 
the soil may be sure that they will have enough 
of the produce to live upon. And I confess 
that I am to take my trial (or, for that matter, 
two trials) for sedition and evil speaking against 
the present system of "laws" and "government." 
This is all true, but it does not in the least alter 
the state of the case as to those same subjects 
of reflection which I have mentioned above. I 
am not constitutional yet your harvests are 
carried off from you. I am not " loyal " quite 
the contrary. Yet it is true that your ancient 
tenant-right is slipping fast out of your hands. 
I may be a revolutionist, but you weave and dig 
for half wages. I am a " Jacobin," but you are 
fast becoming paupers. 

You may observe that I have not undertaken 
to write these letters in order to flatter you 
to call yoxi " sturdy yeomanry " and the like ; 
in fact, I know you too well. I know your way 
of life, and I know that hunger is at most of 
your doors. A "sturdy yeomanry" is not bred 



upon yellow meal, Your fathers, who won the 
Boyne and defended Derry, did not part with 
their Christian food and take trans-Atlantic 
rations in exchange. I know how it stands with 
you. The "gentry," the "noble lords/' and fat 
squires (the men you won the Boyne and 
defended Derry for) have made a sorry yeomanry 
of you. They have taken the pluck out of you 
pretty well. While you had the spirit even to 
celebrate the exploits of your fathers by flaunt- 
ing an orange and purple banner on the 12th 
of July these great patrons of yours in their 
"landlord Parliament" got what they called 
a "law" made to forbid you to hold your 
customary processions a thing that would be 
forbidden in no other land in Europe but when 
the famine came the " law " was allowed to 
expire, and you may walk now if you have the 

It is neither to taunt nor to flatter you that 
I speak of these things ; it is merely to remind 
ybu of matters that it may be useful for you to 
think of when any agent or sub-agent conies, 
to ask you to declare your attachment to 
the glorious Constitution and your unalterable 
resolution to resist anarchy and defy the Pope. 

The truth of the matter is, and you all know 
and feel it, that the " laws " in this land are not 
just laws, do not answer the purpose of laws 
(which is to protect the rights of all alike), 
and are, indeed, considerably worse than 
no laws. Did you ever hear of an " anarchy " 
or "Jacobinism" that slew a million of men, 
women, and children in one year? Did you 
ever hear of an uncivilised and savage country 


so very uncivilised and savage that those who 
cultivated the soil, regularly delivered up the 
produce to others and died of hunger when they 
had reaped the harvest? Did you ever hear of 
Jacobinism that systematically denied the right 
of the poor man to hold the ground he tilled 
one hour longer than he is permitted to do it by 
somebody else ? No. It needs the skill of 
educated legislators and a regular government 
to do that it needs a " glorious Constitution in 
Church and State " to do it. 

Let us see what Jacobinism and revolution 
specially mean. These things began in France 
sixty years ago, when theirs? French Revolution 
betel. France was then a poor, rack-rented, 
over-taxed country, somewhat as Ireland is now, 
only not half so miserable. And do you know 
what the Jacobins and anarchists did 1 ? Why, 
they abolished nobility, and landlordism, and 
church tithes, and rack-rents, and they gave the 
farmers of France the whole soil of France to 
eultivate for their own use and benefit. There 
was a good deal of trouble, to be sure, in their 
process, because the nobles and landlords made 
great resistance, as was very natural, and cried 
out piteously about "rights 0f property," and 
anarchy, infidelity, destruction of ancient fam- 
ilies (as old-established gangs of robbers always 
call themselves), overthrow of time-honoured 
institutions, " throne and altar," "Church and 
State" just as they would be sure to do here 
in the like case and asked foreign Powers to 
help them witk money and arms to fasten their 
yoke more firmly than ever round the necks of 
their own people just as the same tribe here 


are found running to the English Parliament ta 
get coercion Bills for the same purpose and 
those men who urged on the people to do them- 
selves right were called Jacobins, and infidels, 
and philosophers, and many other bad names ; 
and indeed there was a great deal of confusion, 
cruelty and misery, as there always must be for 
a time when the mass of the People are driven to 
take their affairs into their own hands but the 
end of it was, the class of nobles was destroyed, 
the great estates of proprietors were cut up and 
allotted to small farmers, and France has been 
a rich, independent, and prosperous country 
ever since. 

Do you see anything so very hideous and 
horrible in this kind of Jacobinism 1 ? Does it 
frighten you much, the idea of holding, each 
man of you, the land you occupy as your own 
domain for ever ? 

Ah ! but you say what has all this to do 
with Itepeal ? Repeal is a Papist movement, 
and Papists want ascendancy, and if we had not 
Protestant England to back us the number of 
Catholics in Ireland would so preponderate that 
they could carry anything they liked against us. 
Now, I do assure you, my friends, that, except 
yourselves, there is nobody in all Ireland dream- 
ing of religious distinctions in politics, and such 
nonsense is kept alive only by our worshipful 
grand masters with their prate about Jezebel 
and the Man of Sin. If you look all over the 
Continent of Europe yon will perceive that the 
fullest and freest toleration, or rather the most 
unreserved religious equality, has been every- 
where established, and that Catholic countries 


jhave taken the lead in this especially those 
Catholic countries which have got their revolu- 
tions over. In France and Belgium complete 
religious equality has long been acknowledged. 
In Italy, the moment they saw Austria's back 
turned, complete religious equality was pro- 
claimed. Whenever any of the German States 
becomes its own master religious equality is the 
first thing the people insist upon. In truth, 
religious penalties and disqualifications are now 
nowhere to be found save as the worn-out tools 
and engines of some old tyranny or other. The 
people have no interest in them at all, see no 
meaning in them, and desire, above all things, 
to have done with them for ever. It may be 
laid down as a rule, admitting of no exception, 
that in these later ages, wherever the sovereignty 
,of the People is established, there religious 
ascendancy can stand no longer. 

But the reason why your grand masters and 
grand chaplains endeavour to represent the 
national movement in Ireland as a movement 
for religious ascendancy is tolerably plain. It 
is merely to disguise from you the true meaning 
and drift of it. " Repeal," they tell you, involves 
a religious war, and penal laws against Protest- 
ants and seizure of forfeited estates. But I tell 
you that no Repealer in Ireland cares a rush 
whether you admit seven sacraments or only 
two ; no sane Repealer ever thinks of the for- 
feited estates, or would dare to propose in any 
assembly of three that title to landed property 
should be distributed on such pretext. 

Neither does " Repeal " simply mean the 
revocation of the Act of Legislative Union 


passed in 1800 and the re-establishment of the 
jobbing Parliament of Irish landlords contem- 
plated with so much reverence by Mr. Grattan. 
That; Parliament is a very fine thing to talk or 
sing about. It has historic associations of a 
theatric sort ; but no Irish peasant or working 
man will ever pull a trigger for the sake of 
restoring it. 

What, then, is the true value of that mighty 
movement that has stirred the millions of our 
Catholic countrymen for so many years ? What 
hope what faith is it that has sustained them 
through so many famines that has drawn them 
together in multitudinous assemblages on a 
hundred hillsides to call the earth and the 
heavens to witness their wrongs and their 
resolves 1 What is this great vague national 
aspiration, think you ? To impose penalties on 
your worship 1 To take forfeited estates from 
Saxon aristocrats and vest them in Milesian 
aristocrats? To enjoy the honour and elory of 
seeing Ir\sh nobles and gentlemen sitting in 
College Green ? 

My good friends, what Irish Repealers really 
want is, that they may have leave to live, and 
not die ; they want to be made sure that what 
they sow they shall also reap; they want a 
home and a foothold on a soil, that they may 
not be naked and famishing beggars in their 
own land. In one word they demand Ireland 
for the Irish not for the Irish gentry alone. 
They desire not to rob the Protestants, but to 
bridle the exterminators, be they Protestant 
or Catholic (and some of the cruellest are 
Catholics). They demand back, not forfeited 
17 c 


estates, but the long-withheld and denied right 
of human beings. And, inasmuch as Irish 
landlordism is maintained here by the English 
connection, and the English connexion is per- 
petuated by Irish landlordism, they can see no 
way to put an end to either but by destroying 

Now, this this, and nothing else is the 
" Repeal " that stirs and rouses and thrills 
through the ancient Irish nation from sea to 
sea. It is essentially not only a national move- 
ment, but also why not admit it? a class 
movement. You have heard of romantic young 
enthusiasts, or Constitutional idiots, inspired by 
Grattan's rigmarole, denying with chivalrous 
indignation that there is any question of class 
against class involved here. Perish the thought ! 
They say Irish gentlemen armed for the honour 
of Ireland in '82, and shall they not do so again ? 
Think of Charlemont ! Think of Leinster ! 
Names to conjure with ! These romantic enthu- 
siasts and Constitutional idiots refuse to see that 
" Irish gentlemen " acted then as they act now 
upon the true gentlemanlike instinct. They 
armed for Ireland and rents, places, and jobs 
then ; they arm for England and rents, places, 
and jobs now. "Why should they not join 
us ? Why not lead us ? Ah ! Wly ? " Simply, 
gentlemen it is a hard saying simply because 
their interest is the other way because they 
know that the end of British dominion here 
would be the end of them. 

No wonder, therefore, that they try to conceal 
from you the true nature of the Irish movement ; 
no wonder the grand masters and their agents, 


bailiffs, and bog bailiffs exhort you to resist 
" Popery " and withstand the woman who sitteth 
upon the seven hills. They would fain draw 
away your eyes in any direction to Rome, to 
Jericho, to Timbuctoo, but at all events from 
jour own fields and haggards. 

Consider this account which I have given to 

you of the true nature and meaning of the 

movement which is called for want of a better 

name " Repeal," and bethink yourself whether 

you, the Protestant farmers and labourers of the 

North, have in this matter any interest distinct 

from that of the Catholic farmers and labourers 

of the South, the East, and the West. Tf you 

still doubt that a hankering after religious 

ascendancy is at the bottom of it all, I ask you 

to consult the Dublin newspapers of July and 

August, 1846, the period when the old, corrupt, 

sectarian, money-gathering, and hypocritical 

association of O'Connell was broken up and 

abandoned by honest men merely because it was 

corrupt, rndney -gather ing and hypocritical, but 

especially because it was sectarian. At the last 

meeting before this break-up, before leaving that 

Hall of Humbug for ever, I, who now address 

you, said (I quote from the Freeman's Journal) : 

" I am one of the Saxon Irishmen of the 

North, and you want that race of Irishmen in 

your ranks more than any other. You cannot 

well afford to drive even one away from you, 

however humble and uninfluential. And let 

me tell you, friends, this is our country as 

well as yours. You need not expect to free 

it from the mighty power of England by 

yourselves you are not able to do it. Drive 



the Ulster Protestants away from your move- 
ment by needless tests and you perpetuate 
the degradation both of yourselves and them. 
Keep them at a distance from you, make 
yourselves subservient to the old and well- 
known English policy of ruling Ireland always 
by one party or the other and England will 
keep her heel upon both your necks for ever." 
This was less than two years ago. A small 
band of men left the aforesaid Hall of Humbug 
on that day, and ever since its influence declined, 
its treasury sank, its audiences thinned away. 
Not all the bluster and blarney and cant and 
craft of " mighty leaders," and even, I regret to 
say, of some " revered prelates," were able to 
save it. Why was this? Because the Irish 
people despised the hypocrisy and loathed the 
corruption, but especially because they were 
heartily sick of the sectarianism that kept you 
a\vay from our ranks. 

If you believe this plain account of the 
matter, what, then, is your duty 1 Is it to meet 
together, as poor Mr. Gregg's Protestant oper- 
atives did the other night, and pass resolutions 
about vital religion and the necessity of revoking 
the Maynooth grant ? 

Your friend and fellow-countryman, 


(From the " United Irishman" of April 29, 1848). 


MY Friends Since I wrote my first letter 
to you many kind and flattering 
addresses have been made to you by 
exceedingly genteel and very rich noblemen 
and gentlemen. Those of you, especially who 
are Orangemen, seem to have somehow got into 
high favour with this genteel class, which must 
make you feel rather strange. I think. You 
have not been used to much recognition and 
encouragement of late years from British Vice- 
roys or the noble and right worshipful grand 
masters. They rather avoided you seemed, 
indeed, as many thought, somewhat ashamed of 
you and your old anniversaries. Once upon a 
time no Irish nobleman or British Minister 
dared make light of the colours of Aughrim and 
the Boyne. But can yoxi divine any cause for 
the sudden change of late 1 Do you understand 
why the Whig Lord Clarendon calls you so 
many names of endearment, and the Earl of 
Enniskillen tenderly entreats you, as a father 
his only child 1 Can these men want anything 
from you 1 

Let us see what the drift of their addresses 
generally is. Lord Clarendon, the English 
Governor, congratulates you on your "loyalty" 
and your " attachment to the Constitution," and 
seems to calculate, though I know not why, 
upon a continuance of those exalted sentiments 
in the North. Lord Enniskillen, the Irish 


nobleman, for his part cautions you earnestly 
against Popery and Papists, and points out how 
completely you would be overborne and swamped 
by Catholic majorities in all public affairs. 

My Lord Enuiskillen does not say a word to 
you about what is, after all, the main concern 
the tenure of your farms not one word. It ia 
about your Protestant interest he is uneasy. 
He is apprehensive not lest you should be 
evicted by landlords and sent to the poorhouse, 
but lest purgatory and the seven sacraments 
should be thrust down your throats. This is 
simply a Protestant pious fraud of his Lord- 
ship's, merely a right worshipful humbug. Lord 
Enniskillen, and every other commonly informed 
man, knows that there is now no Protestant 
interest at all; that there is absolutely nothing 
left for Protestant and Catholic to quarrel for. 
Even the Church Establishment is not a Cath- 
olic and Protestant question, inasmuch as all 
Dissenters and all plebeian Churchmen are as 
much concerned to put an end to that nuisance 
as Catholics are. Lord Enniskillen knows, too 
(or, if he do not, he is the very stupidest 
grand master in Ulster) that an ascendancy 
of one sect over another is from henceforth 
impossible. The fierce religious zeal that anim- 
ated our fathers on both sides is utterly dead 
and gone. I do not know whether this is for 
our advantage or not ; but at any rate it is gone. 
Nobody in all Europe would now as much a& 
understand it and if any man talks to you now 
of religious sects, when the matter in hand 
relates to civil and political rights, to administra- 
tion of government or -distribution of property 


depend upon it, though he wear a coronet 
on his head, he means to cheat you. 

In fact religious hatred has been kept alive 
in Ireland longer than anywhere else in Chris- 
tendom, just for the simple reason that Irish 
landlords and British statesmen found their own 
account in it, and so soon as Irish landlordism 
and British dominion are finally rooted out of 
the country it will be heard of no longer in 
Ireland any more than it is in France or 
Belgium now. 

If you have still any doubt whether Lord 
Enniskillen means to cheat you, I only ask you 
to remember, first, that he has written you a 
long and paternal letter upon the state of the 
country, and has not once alluded to your 
tenant-right ; and, second, that he belongs to 
that class of persons from whom alone can come 
any danger to your tenant-right which is your 
" life and property." 

As for Lord Clarendon and his friendly ad- 
dresses, exhorting to " loyalty " and attachment 
to the institutions of the country, I need hardly 
tell you that he is a cheat. What institutions 
of the country are there to be attached to? 
That all who pay taxes should have a voice in 
the outlay of those taxes is not one of our 
institutions that those who create the whole 
wealth of the State by their labour should get 
leave to live like Christians on the fruits of that 
Labour this is not amongst the institutions of 
the country. Tenant-right is not an institution 
of the country. No ; out-door relief is our main 
institution at present our Magna Charta our 
Bill of Rights. A high-paid Church and a 


low-fed people are institutions ; stipendiary 
clergymen, packed juries, a monstrous army 
and navy which we pay, not to defend, but to 
coerce, us these are institutions of the country. 
Indian meal, too, strange to say, though it grows 
four thousand miles off, has come to be an 
institution of this country. Are these the 
" venerable institutions " you are expected to 
shoulder your muskets to defend ? 

But, then, ' Protestants have always been 
loyal men/' Have they ? And what do they 
mean by " loyalty"? I have never found that, 
in the North of Ireland, this word had any 
meaning at all, except that we Protestants hated 
the Papists and despised the French. This, I 
think, if von will examine it, is the true throry 
of " loyalty " in Ulster. I can hardly fancy 
any of my countrymen so brutally stupid as to 
prefer high taxes to low taxes to be really 
proud of the honour of supporting " the Prince 
Albert " and his Lady and their children, and 
all the endless list of cousins and uncles that 
they have, in magnificent idleness, at the sole 
expense of half-starved labouring people. I 
should like to meet the Northern farmer or 
labouring man who would tell me in so many 
words that he prefers dear government to cheap 
government ; that he likes the House of Bruns- 
wick better than his own house ; that he would 
rather have the affairs of the country managed 
by foreign noblemen and gentlemen than by 
himself and his neighbours ; that he is content 
to pay, equip, and arm an enormous army, and 
give the command of it to those foreign noble- 
men and to be disarmed himself or liable to be 


disarmed as you are, my friends, at any moment. 
I Hhould like to see the face of the Ulsterman 
who would say plainly that he deems himself 
unfit to have a voice in the management of his 
own affairs, the outlay of his own taxes, or the 
government of his own country. If any of you 
will admit this I own he is a loyal man and 
attached to our venerable institutions, and I 
wish him joy of his loyalty and a good appetite 
for his yellow meal. 

Now, Lord Clarendon and Lord Enniskillen 
want you to say all this. The Irish noble and 
the British statesman want the very same thing : 
they are both a tail. The grand master knows 
that if you stick by your loyalty and uphold the 
British connection you secure to him his coronet, 
his influence, and his rental discharged of 
tenant-right and all plebeian claims. And Lord 
Clarendon knows on his side that if you uphold 
landlordism and abandon tenant-right and bend 
all your energies to resisting the " encroach- 
ments of Popery" you thereby perpetuate British 
dominion in Ireland and keep the " Empire " 
going yet a little while. Irish landlordism has 
made a covenant with British government in 
these terms " Keep down for me my tenantry, 
my peasantry, my k masses ' in due siibmission 
with your troops and laws, and I will garrison 
the island for you and hold it as your liege-man 
and vassal for ever." 

Do you not know in your very hearts that 
this is true 1 And still you are " loyal " and 
attached to the institutions of the country ! 

I tell you frankly that I for one am not 
" loyal." I am not wedded to the Queen of 


England; nor unalterably attached to the House 
of Brunswick. In fact, I love my own barn 
better than I love that House. The time ia 
long past when Jehovah anointed kings. The 
thing has long since grown a monstrous impos- 
tnre, and has already in some civilised countries 
been detected as such and drummed out 
accordingly. A modern king, my friends, is no 
more like an ancient anointed shepherd of the 
people than an archbishop's apron is like the 
Urim and Thummim. There is no divine right 

And for the " institutions of the country," I 
loathe and despise them. We are sickening and 
dying of these institutions fast ; they are con- 
suming us like a plague, degrading us to paupers- 
in mind, body, and estate yes, making our 
very souls beggarly and cowardly. They are a 
failure and a fraud, these institutions. From 
the topmost crown jewel to the meanest detec- 
tive's notebook there is no soundness in them. 
God and man are weary of them. Their last 
hour is at hand, and I thank God that I live in 
the days when I shall witness the utter downfall 
and trample upon the grave of the most porten- 
tous, the grandest, meanest, falsest and cruelest 
tyranny that ever deformed this world. 

These, you think, are strong words, but they 
are not one whit stronger than the feeling that 
prompts them that glows this moment deep in 
the souls of moving and awakening millions of 
our fellow-countrymen of Ireland aye, and in 
your souls, too, Protestants of Ulster, if you 
would acknowledge it to yourselves. I smile 
at the formal resolution about "loyalty to Queen 


Victoria " so eagerly passed and hurried over as 
a dubious kind of form at tenant-right meetings 
and "Protestant Repeal meetings." I laughed 
outright here on Tuesday night last at the 
suspicious warmth with which Dublin merchants, 
as if half afraid of themselves, protested so 
anxiously that they would yield in loyalty to 
none. They, democrats by nature and posiiion, 
meeting there without a nobleman to counten- 
ance them, with the Queen's representative 
scowling black upon them from his castle, are 
they declare it with most nervous solemnity 
loyal men. Indeed, it was easy to see that a 
vague feeling was upon them of the real mean- 
ing and tendency of all these meetings of what 
all this must end in, and to what haven they, 
and you and we, are all in a happy hour 
inevitably drifting together. 

My friends, the people's sovereignty the 
land and sea and air of Ireland for the people of 
Ireland this is the gospel that the heavens and 
the earth are preaching, and that all hearts are 
secretly burning to embrace. Give up for ever 
that old interpretation you put upon the word 
"Repeal." Repeal is no priest movement; it is no 
sectarian movement ; it is no money swindle ; 
nor " eighty -two " delusions ; nor puffery ; nor 
O'Connellism ; nor Mullaghmast " green cap " 
stage play ; nor loud-sounding inanity of any 
sort got up for any man's profit or praise. It is 
the mighty, passionate struggle of a nation 
hastening to be born into new national life, in 
the which unspeakable throes all the parts and 
powers and elements of our Irish existence 
our confederations, our Protestant repeal 


associations, our tenant-right societies, our 
clubs, cliques, and committees, amidst confusions 
enough and the saddest jostling and jumbling, 
are all inevitably tending, however unconsciously, 
to one and the same illustrious goal not a 
local legislature not a return to "our ancient 
Constitution " not a golden link or a patch-work 
Parliament or a College Green Chapel-of-ease 
to St. Stephen's but an IRISH REPUBLIC, one 
and indivisible. 

And how are we to meet that day 1 In arms, 
my countrymen, in arms. Thus, and not other- 
wise, have ever nations of men sprung to liberty 
and power. But why do I reason thus with you 
with you, the Irish of Ulster, who never have 
denied the noble creed and sacraments of 
manhood ? You have not been schooled for 
forty years in the fatal cant of moral force ; 
you have not been utterly debauched and 
emasculated by the claptrap platitudes of public 
meetings and the empty glare of " imposing 
demonstrations." You have not yet learned the 
litany of slaves and the whine of beaten hounds 
and the way to die a coward's death. No ; let 
once the great idea of your country's destiny 
seize on you, my kinsmen, and the way will be 
plain before you as a pike-staff twelve feet long. 

Yet there is one lesson you must learn 
fraternal respect for your countrymen of the 
South, and that sympathy with them and faith 
in them without which there can be no vital 
nationality in Ireland. You little know the 
history and sore trials and humiliations of this 
ancient Irish race ; ground and trampled first 
lor long ages into the very earth, and then 


taught expressly taught in solemn harangues r 
and even in sermons, that it was their duty to 
die, and see their children die before their faces r 
rather than resist their tyrants, as men ought. 
You can hardly believe that creatures with the 
gait and aspect of men could have been brought 
to this. And you cannot wonder that they 
should have been slow, slow in struggling up- 
ward out of such darkness and desolation. But 
I tell you the light has at length come to them ; 
the flowery spring of this year is the dawning 
of their day ; and before the cornfields of Ireland 
are white for the reaper our eyes shall see the 
sun flashing gloriously, if the heavens be kind 
to us, 'on a hundred thousand pikes. 

I will speak plainly. There is now growing 
on the soil of Ireland a wealth of grain, and 
roots, and cattle far more than enough to sustain- 
in life and in comfort all the inhabitants of the 
island. That wealth must not leave us another year, 
not until every grain of it is fought for in every 
stage, from the tying of the sheaf to the loading 
of the ship. And the effort necessary to that 
simple act of self-preservation will at one and 
the same blow prostrate British dominion and 
landlordism together. "Pis but the one act of 
volition if we resolve but to live we make our 
country a free and sovereign State. 

Will you not gird up your loins for this great 
national struggle, and stand with your country- 
men for life and land ? Will you, the sons of 
a warlike race, the inheritors of conquering 
memories with the arms of freemen in all your 
homes, and relics of the gallant Republicans of 
Ninety-eight for ever before your eyes will you 


stand folding your hands in helpless "loyalty," 
and while every nation in Christendom is seizing 
on its birthright with armed hand will you take 
patiently, with your rations of yellow meal, 
your inevitable portion of eternal contempt 1 

If this be your determination, Protestants of 
Ulster, then make haste ; sign addresses of 
loyalty and confidence in Lord Clarendon, and 
protest, with that other lord, your unalterable 
attachment to "our venerable institutions." 


(From the " United Irishman" of May 13. 1848). 


I SUPPOSE, my friends, you are aware that 
the English Parliament, the same body 
which has passed so many cheap and 
handy " Ejectment Acts," and which has now 
four times attempted to cheat you out of 3*our 
Tenant-right that these same Parliament-men 
have, within about three weeks, passed one of 
their "Acts," as they call them, creating a new 
" crime : " for these fellows, let me tell you, 
have always taken it upon them to create 
" crimes " whenever they liked, and, I suppose, 
virtues also, as well as to establish churches 
and enact true religions. At one time they 
made it a heinous crime to celebrate Mass, 
which made " felons " of the Catholics, and 
another crime, not to go to church, which 
nailed the Dissenters. And you know it is a 
Parliament " crime " at present for a man to 
shoot the wild birds that grow fat upon his own 
corn stooks, without the leave or u license " of 
them, the Parliament-men. 

And, then, this Parliament and Government 
have been so long, unfortunately, endured, by 
reason of the miserable dissensions of the people, 
- have been so long suffered to carry on a 
eystem of successful plunder, and have secured 
to themselves so vast a revenue out of the sweat 
and blood of toiling men, that they can pay 
plenty of solemn judges, ferocious military 
gentlemen, upper and under clergymen, detec- 


tives, hangmen, and officers of State ; whose 
business is in their several departments to uphold 
the entire Government system, and make believe 
that it is a "glorious constitution" and so it 
has come to pass that many are deceived into 
supposing Parliament crimes to be real crimes 
the "Government" to be an institution for 
securing life and property, and administering 
justice between man and man, " Acts of 
Parliament" to be real Laws, the preaching 
stipendiaries to be, in some sort, ministers of 
religion, and resistance, or "sedition" against 
any part of the horrid machinery, to be nothing 
less than a sin. 

A very sad state of society, indeed. And we 
that is, you and other farmers, labourers, and 
industrious persons, who earn a livelihood, and 
do not live upon other people's earnings are 
much to blame for having suffered it so long. 
But, leaving for the present this part of the 
subject, I desire to make you think very stead- 
fastly for a minute on one fact : the people called 
" Government," by help of these Parliament- 
men, have still the power of creating crimes, 
and, in the exercise of that power, they have 
lately created a very extraordinary "crime" 
indeed. They have observed that certain men 
in Ireland, wearied out and exasperated past 
endurance at the long oppression and unnatural 
submission and patience of this noble country, 
under such a system of fraud and blood, did 
begin at length to say to their countrymen that 
they should put an end to it altogether, by open 
and armed resistance ; and to show them how 
similar systems of blood and fraud had been 


overthrown in other countries. And the greedy 
gang called " Government," perceiving that the 
people were hearkening to such counsel, and 
were getting their arms and weapons to put it 
in practice, were a good deal frightened, as well 
they might be. So in a great hurry they 
asked their Parliament-men to read over a short 
paper three times, in two separate Houses (such 
is the form), and their Queen to sign the same ; 
and then immediately it was proclaimed that a 
new " crime " was created. Yes, indeed, after the 
reading of that short paper, it was " felony " for 
anyone to write and prmt,or openly and advisedly 
to say (what is, however, GOD'S truth), that the 
said " Government " is a Government of fraud 
and blood, and ought to be overthrown by force 
of arms, or otherwise ; and that no people on 
earth would have endured the like half so long 
as the Irish people. We may think this, we 
may know it, but if we say it, ttare is "crime." 
And forthwith all the solemn judges, fierce 
military gentlemen, upper and under clergymen, 
detectives, hangmen, and officers of State are to 
try and sentence, to cut and stab, to pursue and 
loctc up, to preach against and consign to damna- 
tion all who commit this new "crime," as if it 
were, indeed, a real crime in the eyes of God 
or man. 

Now, to do this thing which the Parliament- 
men have made into a crime, arid christened 
" felony," to speak the very God's truth, which 
they cannot bear to hear, to speak and preach 
it publicly, emphatically, effectively, and with 
millions for an audience, has been to me from 
my early years, a dearly-cherished ambition. 
33 D 


To demonstrate in some conspicuous manner 
before all the people the utter falsity, futility, 
and weakness of the whole British Parliamentary 
system of government in Ireland ; on how very 
unreal a basis it stood, and how it only needed a 
charm some words boldly and truly spoken, 
some deeds boldly and openly done, and the whole 
structure, apparently so staunch and mighty, 
with its towers, and wings, and pinnacles, and 
dungeons, all of diabolic masonry, would vanish 
instantly, and leave scarce a smell of brimstone, 
to do this, or in any efficient manner help to do 
it, seemed to me precisely the most excellent, 
beneficent, religious and glorious deed that 
Irishmen in this age of the world could do. 
And that it could be done I had no doubt; 
that the thing was unreal, was a huge lie, and 
product of diabolic art, I knew well. What ! a 
system by which a beautiful and fertile island, 
producing noble and superabundant harvests 
year after year, became gradually poorer and 
poorer was reduced to beg its bread reduced 
at length to utter starvation ; and, finally, to 
cannibalism a system under which millions of 
men, who toiled their lives through from 
morning to night, found at length they had no 
rights, but a right to public alms, and had 
realised, with all their toiling, nothing but the 
chance of a relief -ticket a state of society 
wherein the tillers of the soil, the real masters 
and lords thereof, were continually found (with 
hat, or remnant of hat, in hand) beseeching, 
flattering, and bribing a few red-faced, thick- 
headed, and insolent individuals for leave to 
labour, and to live by their labour on Irish 


ground, under the delusion, as it seemed, that 
those thick-headed individuals, and not they 
themselves, were the real masters and lords 
a system of dealing whereby the countless 
shiploads of corn and other food for man were 
sent away out of the island, and money received 
in exchange, which money was then immediately 
sent out also after the commodities, and for 
result of the whole transaction many rent 
receipts were netted, the money being fairy- 
money, and haviug turned into leaves a system 
of society, whereby the more wealth was produced 
the less was used by its producers, and the more 
skilfully, rapidly, and entirely it was carried 
out of the reach of those producers, the more 
commerce, enlightenment, and civilisation there 
was said to be. Manifestly this was all one 
huge and horrible cheat, and cried aloud to be 
exposed, punished, and extinguished amidst the 
wrath and scorn of mankind. 

There was, of course, but one way to do this 
needful business, and it was obvious enough, 
too : but for a long time I could not see it. 
Knowing that British dominion was the power 
which maintained the imposture here, I long 
thought that if only all u ranks and classes," as 
the phrase runs, could be banded together for the 
Repeal of the Union, the wrong and injustice 
would disappear ; " Irish noblemen and gentle- 
men " the thick-headed individuals before 
mentioned would straightway treat their 
tenants like Christian men, and not like wild 
beasts, and the tillers of the soil would suddenly 
acquire a perpetuity in their lands, and sitting, 
every man of them, under his own vine and 


fig-tree, would consume the fruits of the earth 
in peace, with none to make them afraid. It 
was an agreeable delusion, and the fabulous 
glories of " Eighty-Two " shed a glow over it for 
a while. But it was a dream : " Irish noblemen 
and gentlemen " no longer acknowledge Ireland 
for their country they are " Britons ; " their 
education, their feelings, and what is more 
important to them, their interests, are all British. 
British " laws " eject and distrain for them, 
British troops preserve " life and property," 
and chase their surplus tenants. For them 
judges charge for them hangmen strangle. 
Without British government they are nothing ; 
and they have instinct enough (albeit thick- 
headed) to perceive that Irish landlordism has 
grown so rotten and hideous a thing, that only 
its strict alliance, offensive and defensive, with 
British oligarchy saves it from going down to 
sudden perdition. So soon as this became clear 
to my mind, I, for one, desisted from the vain 
attempt at seducing the English landlord gar- 
rison in Ireland to fraternise with Irishmen, 
and turned upon the garrison itself. I determined 
to try how many men in Ireland would help me 
to lay the axe to the root of this rotten and 
hideous Irish landlordism ; that we might see 
how much would come down along with it. 

Well, then, I established this newspaper, 
" THE UNITED IRISHMAN ; " and the programme 
of it, which appeared about four months ago, 
was universally reputed one of the most sedi- 
tious, felonious, treasonable, and burglarious 
productions that ever appalled society. And so it 
was ; for, do you know what I said in it 1 Why, 


that the life of one labouring man is exactly 
equal to the life of one nobleman, neither 
more nor less ! That the property of a farmer is 
as sacred as that of a gentleman ! That men 
born iu Ireland have a right to live on the pro- 
duce of Ireland and even to make laws for 
Ireland ! That no good thing could come 
from the English Parliament or the English 
Government ! That all men ought to possess 
Arms, and know how to use them ! These were 
doctrines to propound to a civilised nation ! At 
once a cry of virtuous horror arose from all the 
genteel places of the land. They saw the plain 
consequences deducible from such Jacobin pre- 
mises, and were justly alarmed. "Here is a 
miscreant," they said ; " will no man stop 
him ? Where is it to end ? Whose life or 
property is safe"? The Chief Justice of the 
Quee'n's Bench the moment he read the document 
said, this paper ought to be called, not "United 
Irishman," but " Queen's Bench Gazette." For 
what is the use, thought he, of my Queen's 
Bench, if not to check miscreants of this kind ? 
I knew by the outcry they raised that I had 
found the right road at length. By the nervous 
anxiety of Lord Stanley in the English House 
of Lords ; by the tremendous abuse of the 
landlord-newspapers in Ireland ; by the con- 
gregating of the Government troops, and the 
whetting of their slaughtering tools ; by the 
formidable looks of legal officials, the bubonic 
solemnity of the "inner bar," and the parrot 
clatter of the outer, I knew that the monster 
called "Government" was collecting all his 
energies that his judges were getting ready 


their charges, his sheriffs their good and lawful 
men that his preachers,* hangmen and detec- 
tives were all putting themselves in readiness, in 
their several departments, to crush the rebel who 
dared to say and write down (contrary to nil 
the statutes, and all the precedents, and all the 
reported cases) that a poor man's life is as 
precious as a nobleman's. 

So, being satisfied that I had the axe laid to 
the root of the right tree, I girded up my loins, 
and delivered blow on blow, not with any great 
strength or woodman-craft, but with right good 
will. Into British civilisation and commerce, 
into Britain's Crown and Law, into landlord 
Thuggee, and all enlightened theories of 
consolidated farming, I made horrid gashes, 
tiH, as I thotight, the leafy top trembled, 
and the trunk groaned, arid it became evident 
that if so vehement an attack continued, 
the tree would fall, and obscene birds no longer 
have shelter beneath its branches. Then the 
"law" discharged its first bolt, and I was arrested, 
and held to bail to take two trials, one after the 
other, for what they call " sedition " that is, 
for speaking the Truth aforesaid. 

But, to the amazement of all Parliament-men 
and Government people, I still went on exactly 
as before. What I had to say was GOD'S truth, 
and I would say it : what I had undertaken to 
do was a sacred work, and I would do it. Nay, 
I began to call you, the Protestant democracy of 
the North, to my aid. I called aloud on you to 

* The pulpits of most parish churches of Dublin have rung 
for some weeks back with pious abuse of Jacobins, mean in 
me. J.M. 



come and help me to abolish the system that 
gave away the food you raised and the cloth you 
wove, to be eaten and worn by strangers. I 
asked jou what profit or pride you had in sup- 
porting foreign Queens and Princes out of your 
hard earnings. I asked you whether you liked 
paying high taxes in order to fit out troops and 
ships to disseminate British civilisation in India, 
and diffuse over China the blessings of British 
" Christianity," which turned out, when the bales 
were opened, to be nothing but printed cottons. 
I implored you to give over your terror about the 
bugbear of Popery, and to join with your 
countrymen in taking possession of Ireland for 
the Irish : and you were beginning to hearken 
to oay appeal when Government flesh and blood 
could bear it no longer. Suddenly this f-hort 
paper I spoke of was written out, was read three 
times, her most gracious " Majesty " gave it her 
" royal assent," of course ; and, behold ! it was 
an Act ; and whoso should thereafter write, or 
print, or openly and advisedly speak, GOD'S truth 
in this matter, was to be a " felon," and to be 
sent forthwith to the Antipodes, to labour there 
in chains for his natural life. And, inasmuch as 
I still persisted in speaking, writing, printing and 
publishing the truth, I am now inditing to you 
this letter possibly my last in a cell of New- 
gate Gaol, where I await what the blessed law 
and my good or evil destiny may bring me. If 
1 escape conviction for the transportable offence 
next week, then comes my trial in the Queen's 
Bench on the following Monday ; if I escape 
that, then my second trial in the Queen's Bench 
on the following Thursday ; and if I escape them 


all, then I suppose I must still remain in custody 
till the Government people, on some one of the 
three cases, pack a jury to their mind. For what 
is the use of a Queen's Bench, or a Government, 
if it cannot crush the miscreant who says one 
Peasant's life is equal to one Peer's. 

Now, before undergoing any of my trials 
while T have still the use of pen and paper I 
wish to say to you that I am more than ever 
convinced the way I have been taking is the 
true and only way to deal with the "Government," 
to right the wrongs of the working-men, ancj to 
achieve liberty for our country. Let the pljiin 
truth be told, the plain truth be acted, felony or 

no felony. Let Irishmen, north and sou 


reflect upon that maxim: The Life of cne 
Peasant is equal to the Life of one Peer; and 
follow it out to its consequences, whithersoe 1 er 
it may lead, be that through prisons, or anarcly, 
or reigns of terror, or rivers of blood; aid, 
above all things, remember, that no good thing 
can come from the English Parliament or the 
English Government. 

For me, I abide my fate joyfully ; for I kndw 
that whatever betide me, my work is nearly done. 
Yes ; Moral Force, and " Patience and Persever- 
ance," are scattered to the wild winds of Heaven. 
The music my countrymen now love best to 
hear, is the rattle of arms and the ring of thi 
rifle. As I sit here, and write in my lonely celK 
I hear, just dying away, the measured tramp ol 
ten thousand marching men my gallant COJH 
federates, unarmed and silent, but with hearts 
like bended bow, waiting till the time comes. 
They have marched past my prison windows to 


let me know there are ten thousand fighting men 
in Dublin " felons " in heart and soul. 

I thank GOD for it. The game is afoot at 
last. Th.j liberty of Ireland may come sooner or 
later, by peaceful negotiation or bloody conflict 
but it is sure ; and wherever between the 
poles I may chance to be, I will hear the crash 
of the downfall of the thrice-accursed "British 

Your friend and fellow-countryman, 


(From the " United Irishman" of May 20, 1848). 



Mitchel, in the last year of his life, was elected 
a member of the English Parliament by Tipperary 
the first Sinn Fein election. For Mitchel pledged 
himself never to set his foot in the English Parlia- 
ment, and by his example to lead the people of 
Ireland to see that the only safety they had in 
connection with that institution was in electing 
representatives who would refuse to attend it, and 
attend instead to Ireland's business at home. But 
Mitchel did once draw up a petition to the English 
Parliament a petition which probably not a dozen 
of the present generation have ever read, and 
which forms a perfect model for all petitions to 
that Parliament from Irishmen. In 1848 the Young 
Irelanders determined on formally demanding from 
England, before they repudiated the connection 
altogether, Repeal of the Union. Mitchel and 
Meagher were asked to draw up the formal 
petitions. Meagher's was the petition agreed upon, 
We here reprint Mitchel's : 





Th.-it every people should mind their own 
business, and are best fitted to mind their own 
business ; and that the people of Ireland, of whom 
your petitioners ,are a few, are quite willing and 
well fitted to mind theirs. 

That since the ist of January, 1801, Ireland, the 
native land of your petitioners, has been, to its 
sorrow, degradation, and misery, "incorporated" 
with the British Empire. 

That this incorporation wa=; legally effected by 
a certain grievous act of your honourable House, 
called "an Act for the Union of Great Britain and 
Ireland" ; and in realit) 1 by the systems of assas- 
sinage, incendiarism, and subornation, which your 
honourable House has always sanctioned as its 
means for the extension of English dominion. 

That since the incorporation aforesaid, in the 
name of the act aforesaid, and by means of armed 
troops regular, and of police, spies, placemen, and 
others (the means which your honourable House 
has always approved for the sustentation of English 
dominion), divers persons, calling themselves suc- 
cessively, the ' Imperial Government,' have, to the 
utmost of their ability, and under the sanction of 
your honourable House, abused the native land of 
your petitioners for the sole benefit of the English, 
and the complete misery of the Irish people. 

That the accumulated evil-doing of those persons 
aforesaid has at length necessarily inflicted upon 
the native la d of your petitioners famine and 
pestilence unprecedented in the world. 

That your petitioners are ignorant of and in- 
different about the intentions of these divers 
persons aforesaid, forasmuch as they are all of 
necessity incompetent to govern the native land of 
your petitioners, which really needs to be goverred ; 
and forasmuch as those of them whose intentions 


were said to be worst did least ill to your p< tit- 
ioners' country, fearing to interfere in the affairs 
of your petitioners' fellow-countrymen where they 
could avoid such interfer nee, and being- opposed 
tooth and nail by the majority of your petitioners' 
fellow-countrymen, on account of their reported 
intentions, whether their acts were bad or worse ; 
and thos.- of them whose intentions were said to be 
best did no harm, inasmuch as, at varions times, 
saying they would 'lay the foundation of most just 
systems in,' 'better the conditions,' 'improve the 
lot,' 'extend the happiness,' and the like, of your 
petitioners' native country, they were pet mitted 
by your petitioners' simple fellow-countrymen to- 
make divers cruel experiments for such purposes. 

That the incorporation aforesaid of your petit- 
ioners' native country into the British Empire has 
been necessarily followed by the incorporation 
of Irish labour into the English capitalist, the 
incorporation of Irish wealth into the English 
Treasury, the incorporation of Irish blood in the 
English armies, the incorporation of the Irish flag 
into the English jack, and the incorporation of 
Irish food into the English stomachs, all or any 
of which incorporations would not be submitted to- 
by any other people in the world, and are so cruel 
and humiliating to your petitioners that your 
honourable House may well be, since you can 
safely be, surprised at our inhuman patience and 
our unchristian resignation 

That, however, self-preservation is a severe 
necessit)'. That of the natives of your petitioners' 
country not more than one million are yet starved. 
And that, whereas, one John Russell, a grave 
member of your honourable House, having rashly 
said to the remainder of your petitioners' fellow- 
countrymen (they being t ow in a state of direst 
famine, caused by the English having devoured 
their food), 'Help yourselves, and God will help 
you,' your petitioners are grievously afraid their 
fellow-countrymen will hearken to the advice of 
the Honourable John Russell aforesaid, and help 
themselves, whether your honourable House will 


it or no, to their own food, and their own country, 
in future. 

Wherefore your petitioners, being peaceable 
men, anxious to save the lives of millions of their 
fellow-countrymen by obtaining for them the eating 
of their own prodnce, 'peaceably, legally, morally, 
and constitutionally,' do b >seech your honourable 
House to repeal the aforesaid act of ' incorporation,' 
called an ' Act for the Union of Great Britain and 
Ireland,' in order that, without offence to your 
honourable House, your petitioners fellow- 
countrymen may be enabled to drive the armies 
of your honourable House, the laws, and other 
grievous impositions of your honourable House, 
the police, English accent, Manchester clothes, 
'felon flag,' and all things English, off the face of 
their own c Juntry into the sea an e v nt, for which 
the judgment of Heaven, the incompetency and 
the crimes of men, are daily preparing the nations 
of Europe. 

And your petitioners will ever pray." 

When Irishmen think, speak and act to usurped 
alien authority in the spirit of this admirable petition 
M-e shall have reality in Irish politics. 

(From "Nationality," November 13, 1915). 





Mitchel, John 

An Ulsterman for ]