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Catholics, Protestants, and the Government. The Catholics advanced upon one hand, and the Protestants upon the other, and the Government, by whom both ought to be controlled, looked passively on."*
During the same week, at the provincial meeting of Munster, he had held forth the promise of a speedy realization of the popular hope :
“What had the Government to apprehend from their resentment in peace? An answer to that question was supplied by what they actually beheld. Was not the country agitated by the most dreadful passions ? Had not all the natural bonds by which men were tied together been burst asunder ? Were not all the relations of society which exist elsewhere gone? Had not property lost its influence ? Had not rank been stripped of the respect which should belong to it, and had not an internal government grown up which, gradually superseding the legiti. mate authorities, had armed itself with a complete domination ? Did Waterford, and Louth, and Clare supply no reminiscences, or afford no warnings ? Was it nothing that the whole body of the Catholic clergy were alienated from the State, and that the Catholic gentry, and peasantry, and priesthood, were all combined in one vast confederacy? So much for Catholic indignation, while they were at peace. And when England should be involved in war-he paused—it was not necessary that he should discuss that branch of the division, or point to the cloud which, charged with thunder, was hanging over their heads. One act of legislative wisdom could break and disperse it. We have treated the question as one of mere expediency, and put the great Captain to his election. One of the two parties was to be offended, according to his view. Let him conciliate both if he could, if he
* Speech in Association, 30th August, 1828.
could not, which was it wisest to please ? Let him choose ; let him elect between a nation and a faction; between thousands and millions ; between a powerless aristocracy and an almost irresistible people. Events had become their advocates. The Russian trumpet was pealing in their favour; a voice was heard from Constantinople which cried, “Set Ireland free !' and inscribed on the white flag that streamed on the navies of France, as, laden with gallant men, they were wafted to the Morea, it was easy to discern through the telescope of the mind, Emancipation.'”
Again, upon the 18th September, he recurred to the imminent peril that existed of civil conflict between the Orange yeomanry of Ulster, who still shouldered the arms of 1798, and preserved amongst them the traditional maxims of discipline and organization that had so long given them a power far exceeding their proportionate numbers,—and the Catholic “population whose masses had been reduced to an almost military uniformity of movement :” and whom it was impossible to observe without feeling that there had come to be “a dreadful unity among the people.”* The sense of public danger still continuing, on the 25th September, he reiterated the same anxious admonitions :
“I am well aware that I have been considered as an alarmist, because, upon a late occasion I raised my voice in order to admonish the community to which 1 belong, and as far as I was able, in order to warn the Government of the probable results of
Speech in Association, 18th September, 1828.
the state of things to which the resusal of Emancipation was hurrying the country. I have been represented as a terrorist, and it was said that being myself affrighted, I was anxious to convert my fears into a panic. That sort of valour which consists in setting a small value on the lives of others, is easy of attainment, and I own that I am not ambitious of that kind of political chivalry. I do not, I hope, often speak of myself, but I am justified in the egotism of a moment, when I say, that where my own liberty was at stake, when I was brought to the threshold of a long captivity and saw a dungeon before me, I did not exhibit any pusillanimous disposition. My fears are not derived from any danger of my own, but I confess that if courage consists in sceing with indifference my country covered with the blood of its people, I do not possess that kind of intrepidity. It does appear to me that men are not sufficiently aware of the results which may ensue from the unparalleled excitation (for it is without example) to which the passions of both Catholics and Protestants have been raised. It is recorded that, in a great combat, so fierce was the fury of the contending armies, that they were not conscious of an earthquake by which the field of battle was shaken. In this terrific contest—in this shock of faction, we do not perceive that the country is rocking beneath our feet. Listen to the mutterings of the earthquake, and let not the subterranean thunder roll unheard. I do here repeat, what I before declared, that the Government (for with them all the blame must ultimately rest), by allowing the Catholic question to convulse the country, and not at once interposing for its adjustment,—by their strange procrastination, and almost imbecile indecision-by their fantastical irresolution and unaccountable infirmity of purpose, have caused the mind of Ireland to be infuriated to such a point, that we are almost at the mercy of accident, and that any unfortunate contingency might throw the country into a convulsion. The oldest man who hears me does not remember a parallel of national passion.
I am at a loss to see any benefit to be derived from these meetings and marchings
to which so much anxious attention has lately been directed, beyond the bare evidence which they afford of the colossal power of the people, which bestrides the land; and of that amazing strength, perhaps, there has been given proof enough. I had rather show the Government the giant in repose, than exhibit this mighty stirring of his limbs. It is excellent to have a 'giant strength, but it is rash to use it after this gigantic fashion. The people are reconciled. The Government must see pretty clearly what they could do, at a signal (God forbid that it ever should be given !)-enough has been done—and I own that I see many objections to these assemblies. First, they are not of our calling. We may have prepared the public mind, and rendered it susceptible of the feelings from which these meetings derive their origin, but we have not called them. I do not desire to see any assemblies of Roman Catholics, excepting such as shall be under the immediate direction and control of that government which we have established. We have hitherto exercised a useful despotism over the passions of the people, and have taken care to present to them none but legal and constitutional objects of political pursuit. But let us have a care. Let no spirits be permitted to rise, except such as we shall evoke. Let us be wise in our magic, that no power shall ascend except at our bidding; and let us beware lest some spirit may appear who shall disobey the spell-who may trespass on the boundaries which we have traced—who shall pass the circle and hurry the enchanters away.
Let us show the Marquis of Anglesea that Ireland may be governed upon different principles, and let us show him what a wise Government could be, by performing the part of a wise government ourselves. Let us, by gentle remonstrance, disperse these assemblies, and prove with what facility Irishmen can be controlled.”*
Resolutions were subsequently, passed dissuading
* Speech in Catholic Association, 25th September, 1828.
the people from holding such assemblages, and Mr. O'Connell was asked “to employ his powerful and deserved authority” to the same end; and this he did by the publication of an address to the men of Tipperary, enjoining the strict observance of order and tranquillity, and the discontinuance of demonstrations calculated to cause exasperation and alarm.* The address was received in various districts at the moment when thousands were marching to a common place of rendezvous; they instantly obeyed the admonition, and returned to their homes. A proclamation by the Lord Lieutenant in Council was issued on the lst October, forbidding such assemblages; none took place; and the authority of the King and that of the Association claimed alike the merit of their sup
* The resolutions of the Association were adopted on the 25th, and Mr. O'Connell's address was dated the 30th, September, 1828.