Изображения страниц

be seen.

claimed to represent the interests and feelings of the people, and the Minister who, supported by the whole aristocracy of his county, represented the Government of the King. The most perfect order and sobriety prevailed. Intoxication was nowhere to

A vow of self-denial had for the first time been unanimously taken by the peasantry, and a sort of democratic police had been improvised, whose commands were implicitly obeyed. By these means the unhoused myriads who remained congregated in and around the county town for a period of many days, though wrought to a pitch of fearful excitement, assembled, remained, and departed, without the occurrence of a single

accident or altercation.

At the close of the first day the numbers were found to be, for Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald

194 Mr. O'Connell

200—6 Those who have witnessed the effect produced, upon the announcement that the numbers polled up to a particular period are virtually equal, can estimate in some sort the stimulus which this intelligence gave to the popular inflammation. Nor did the fever abate when, at the end of

[ocr errors]


the second day's struggle, the majority for Mr. O'Connell was ascertained to have slightly augmented. On Thursday evening the result of the first three days' polling was reported thus : Mr. Fitzgerald

842 Mr. O'Connell






978 To the multitude this seemed conclusive, as in fact it soon was found to be. Still there were some who doubted whether a relaxation of the popular efforts and popular discipline could yet with security be allowed; and there was in the minds of others an unquenchable desire that the triumph should be rendered as complete as the resources of “tenant insurrection” rendered possible. “The battle,” said Mr. Sheil, “is won, but the effect of the defeat will be measured elsewhere by the demonstration of the overwhelming numbers :-no laying down of our arms while our adversary keeps the field.” Influenced by these feelings, he delivered, at the close of the third day's poll, one of the most exciting addresses to the people which had ever been uttered even by him. He alluded to the shameful rights over the persons of their humbler vassals, by feudal lords of the soil.

[merged small][ocr errors]

“The priests at length began to interfere. They said 'this custom of the country,' as it was called, ' was contrary alike to the laws of God and man;' the lords exclaimed that the priests everywhere were sowing disunion and destroying the wholesome dependence of the tenant upon his baronial master. These priests ought to be put down,—they were converting their holy ministry to the worst of purposes, and depriving the landlords of their best territorial prerogative. Peasants,—tillers of the earth,—but men, for after all you are human beings,—the landlords of Clare have as much right to your votes as they have to your wives and daughters. Give unto Cæsar what is due to Cæsar, but give unto God what is due to God. I say to you, pay to your landlords the rent which is due to them, but give what is due to your conscience and your country what is due to them. As to the landlords, I trust they will forbear from adopting a system of exasperating persecution towards the great body of the people. Every kindly and generous feeling forbids the exercise of measures of rigour, and his heart must be made of granite who can bring himself to let his vengeance fall upon the wretch who has only followed the dictates of his conscience in violating his will. But let the landlords beware—the peasants

'may have their day.' The Irish have good memories; and as there is One in heaven to whom I lift my hand and raise my eyes,

if but I shall not proceed. Enough to say that the Irish gentry should recollect that they dwell upon a volcanic elevation. Let them beware of an eruption - let them look to it. The people must not be provoked -the landlord and tenant are made of the same flesh and blood, and will rot at last in the same churchyard. The worms (those genuine Jacobins) will scarcely make a difference between landlord and tenant, and will digest Sir Edward O'Brien and Paddy Murphy with an impartial stomach. Why do I urge these topics ? In order to make landlords recollect that they are compounded out of the same materials as their serfs; they should remember that the passion of retribution (I will not call it the wild justice of revenge) is a property of human nature. If they oppress the people, sooner or later they will feel the consequences.”

On Saturday evening, the sheriff declared Mr. O'Connell had been duly elected by a majority of 1075, the total numbers being, for Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald, 982, for Mr. O'Connell, 2057.

Although for some days the issue of the conflict

had been anticipated, its formal announcement elicited feelings of enthusiasm which cannot be described. To gratify the people who had made so many sacrifices to insure the result, it was resolved that the newly elected member for Clare should be conducted in triumphal procession from Ennis to the confines of the county. The popular “sympathy became contagious; and the soldiers shouted and threw up their caps for joy, upon the hills whence they surveyed the popular ovation.”*

The period for which the abortive statute of 1823 had been enacted, expired in July. It had from the first lain a dead letter, no attempt having ever been made to enforce it. But the resentment with which it was regarded had not died out in men's minds; and its obsequies were celebrated amid an outburst of popular exultation. Steps were forthwith taken to restore the name and form of the old Catholic Association; and its resuscitation was inauguratedt by the renewal of the pledge to contest the return to Parliament of every man who would not declare himself an opponent of the Duke of Wellington's admi

* Speech of Mr. Sheil on the Church of Ireland. House of Commons, 23rd July, 1835.

† 2nd August, 1828.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »