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and disunion broke forth on all sides, and vague imputations of faithlessness were recklessly hurled at the more prominent members of the luckless deputation. It needed no ordinary spirit of energy and courage to look all this amount of popular disappointment and ill-humour in the face, and to undertake the work of reconstruction and reparation on the temporary ruin of the confidence hitherto reposed in them. It is probable, indeed, that without the signal force and versatility of Mr. O'Connell, the attempt would never have been made. But the influence of his example was contagious amongst all who had recently shared his counsel and its defeat:
common sentiment of wounded pride and tantalizing expectation animated all, and by none were these emotions more keenly shared than by the subject of the present memoirs.
New Catholic Association-Revival of agitation—Speech at the
Boyne—Visit to Paris-L'Etoile— American „sympathyLord Wellesley-Leinster provincial meeting—Prayer for Emancipation-Mr. G. R. Dawson-Manufacturing distress in England.
The tidings of the loss of the Relief Bill reached Dublin at an early hour on the 20th May, and created a deep and painful sensation. On the 23rd, a preliminary meeting was held to consider what public steps should be taken in consequence of the defeat of the measure.
Mr. Woulffe took the chair, and after some time spent in conference, resolutions to be submitted to an aggregate meeting were prepared by Mr. Sheil, Sir John Burke, Mr. Bric, and others. It was felt that time must be given to render the intended demonstration one of weight and influence commensurate with the occasion. But it was equally important, in the opinion of Mr. Sheil, that no unnecessary delay should be permitted to occur.
His counsel was that they should give prompt and firm response to the vote of the House of Lords. This answer could only be uttered by the nation as such. Their part was to advise and to direct its utterance; but the country at large, and as one man, must speak. Every parish ought upon the same day to petition Parliament and the throne. The idea was caught up eagerly. It was felt to be the discovery of a new electric chain, whose consequence none ventured to forecast, but whose potency and applicability was manifest to all.
The assembly, convened in pursuance of the resolutions above referred to, took place on the 8th June. In numbers, rank, and opulence, it was not unworthy the occasion. If unabated determination, and something more, had not been expressed with the sobriety of earnest men and the strength of intelligent and influential men, the faith in eventual success would have died in the hearts of the multitude, and the partisans of ascendency would have had cause to exult in the rejection of all terms of compromise. But this was not all. It was felt that defiance, not in impassioned words alone, but in deliberate acts, must be flung in the face of the
unconstitutional interdict which the heir presumptive to the throne had affected to lay on the attainment by peaceful means of religious liberty. The old organization had been extinguished by a new restrictive statute. It was to be considered how a substitute might be formed without infringing the law. A committee was named to consider and report how this might be done. Other expedients, however, might be resorted to, whose novelty would arrest attention, and whose practical meaning would be obvious to all. Of these, the two most notable were the taking of a sectarian census, and the holding, on à given day, of simultaneous meetings in every parish in Ireland. The one would exhibit the numbers of the disfranchised race; the other, their unanimity. To Mr. Sheil both are to be ascribed. In his speech at the meeting of the 8th June he suggested both of these measures, which he subsequently matured and guided to completion :
“We are called again together by the calamities of Ireland. The sensations of deep pain, and, let me add, of profound resentment, which pervade the whole Roman Catholic community, of which this vast assembly is an image (and if we were not indignant we would not be men), derive an additional bitterness from the baffled hopes in which, for a moment of brief and bright illusion, we had been sufficiently credulous to indulge. How differently the steps
did we meet at the last great convocation of our body, which was held while the bill for our relief was in its triumphant progress through the House of Commons ! A spirit of enthusiastic hope was diffused amongst us—the mere expectation of success had generated results which more than anticipated many of the consequences of its attainment, when upon a sudden
-but why should I attempt to describe it? You know it painfully well, and thank God that not only you, but that every nation in Europe, is acquainted with it! There were emissaries of confederated France and Russia in the avenues of the senate, upon the night of that disastrous decision, which may be repented only when it can no longer be repaired. Shall Ireland be reconciled ? was the question. “Never !' said the heir to the British empire. He did not say, 'not yet;' he said 'never !—and that is a disastrous word from the son and brother of a king who stands upon of the throne (he spoke, indeed, as if he had reached the seat of royalty itself), and from that high station he pronounced a malediction-an anathema—against the Irish people; he gave as a motto for Ireland that dreadful inscription which Dante has told us was written upon the gates of hell, and bade us 'hope no more.' .... The Catholic question has been thrown out by a majority of forty-eight in the House of Lords—forty-eight noncontents have produced six millions of malcontents. That we are malcontents they admit—that we are six millions they deny. What, then, is to be done? Let there be a census of the Catholics of Ireland. “Do not dress your slaves with a peculiar garb,' said a Roman statesman, ‘lest they should learn their own strength. An enumeration of the Catholic people may effected through the instrumentality of the Catholic clergy. The next project is one as simple as it is efficacious. Let petitions be presented from every parish in Ireland. Never shall we relinquish the pursuit of that glorious object to which the whole heart and soul of the country are devoted. We are willing to bind ourselves to the prosecution of this great cause by the most