CHAPTER VII. Ireland in 1846...
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Ireland in 1846--The Potato Disease--Dublin--Belfast--Galway--Limerick--Killarney--Cork--Back to Dublin--Daniel O'Connell.
IT will not be forgotten by middle-aged men that in the year 1846 Ireland was smitten by a scourge that deprived a large number of her peasantry of the means of subsistence, and was ruinous to many of the proprietors of the soil. The reports in the newspapers of the day as to the extent of the blight and the destitution and wretchedness of the people, caused thoughtful men to reflect, and to ask themselves whether there was not something radically wrong in the system of government, or in the relation of landlord and tenant, that might not be remedied by legislation. With a view of gathering reliable information, the leading London newspapers sent over to Ireland some of their chosen staff--men of varied experience and of literary reputation--to report fully and faithfully upon what they saw and heard of the actual state of the country. The publication in England of the result of their inquiries caused a sensation.
Prompted by a desire to see and judge for himself how far these thrilling narratives of destitution and misery were well or ill founded, I made up my mind to visit the country. I had no friends, no acquaintances, living there, but I had had in my time friends hailing from Ireland, and I felt an interest in its people that I have not yet outgrown. Embarking at Holyhead, after a somewhat boisterous passage, I found myself next morning at Kingstown. During the passage over, I many times wished myself anywhere but in the Irish Channel. I think my fellow-passengers suffered as much as myself. I don't think that I have an unbounded admiration for a man who is superior to sea-sickness. I once knew a man who had the reputation of being a great "screw," and on one occasion I heard him boasting that he was blissfully ignorant of the sensation of sea-sickness, whereupon a man at his elbow said to him, "I am not in the least surprised, sir, to hear you say as much of yourself; but I should indeed have been very much surprised had you asserted that you had, under any circumstances, been seen to disgorge anything."
Arriving at the railway-station in Dublin, I was literally taken
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possession of by a smart car-driver, who, seeing that I had no friends, seized hold of my luggage and whisked me off to a first-class hotel. On the following morning I turned out on a tour of inspection, and was sufficiently pleased with what I saw. The houses generally struck me as more remarkable for uniformity than for architectural beauty, but some of the public buildings--notably Trinity College, the Bank of Ireland, the Custom House, and the Law Courts--were strikingly fine, and would have graced any capital in Europe. Phoenix Park, about two miles from the heart of the city, is of large area, and well laid out. To visit this I engaged a car, and in my drive I had some interesting conversation with the carman upon the then great question of Repeal, and upon the, to me, greater question of emigration to the colonies. I recommended emigration on a large scale as a necessity in the then state of the country, but I hardly succeeded in satisfying my friend the car-driver that there was an El Dorado out of Ireland. At this crisis in the history of Ireland very few could be induced to accept free passages to the Cape of Good Hope, although in many districts in the west and in the south a state approaching famine was fast becoming general. The carman confessed to being a Repealer, but he said he had no great faith in living long enough to see its accomplishment. He seemed to think that with the disappearance of Daniel O'Connell from the stage, the organisation would fizzle out; that no one else had yet appeared above the political horizon of sufficient ability and character to carry it to a successful issue.
I attended divine service at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Compared with some of the finest English cathedrals, it seemed small. The Archbishop of Dublin, Whately, took part in the service; his reading was very striking. The only man, as a reader, who, in my judgment, was to be preferred to him, was the Rev. Hugh M'Neile, at that time thought highly of and much run after in Liverpool. I once heard him read prayers and preach in his own church. His preaching was good, although, after the fashion of the day, of pronounced controversial character. But his reading struck me as the most perfect performance that I ever listened to. Hugh M'Neill was a man of a dignified presence, and was possessed of a voice that was as remarkable for purity as for power. I saw him once more only, after an interval of ten years. He was then becoming an old man, but his mind seemed in no respect to have failed him. I never heard
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him speak on a political or any other public question, but I once heard a political opponent say of him that he considered him equal as a speaker to any man at that time in England. He was the head and champion of Orangeism for very many years.
After a few days spent in Dublin, I left by an early train for the north. I think Drogheda at that time was the terminus of the completed line of railway. The remainder of the journey was performed by coach. The coaches were splendidly horsed, and driven after a fashion that left nothing to be desired.
The appearance by night of Belfast, the great northern capital of Ireland, gave one a proper notion of the extent and importance of the place. The long unbroken line of well-built houses, and the many cotton and linen factories blazing with light, proved beyond question that there was a vitality, a bustle, and business in the north of Ireland at any rate that bad times had not succeeded in annihilating. Within easy reach of Belfast was to be seen at this time the Great Britain steamship, grounded in Dundrum Bay. She was shortly afterwards floated off, over-hauled, re-fitted, and employed in the colonial passenger trade, and was for many seasons the favourite ship carrying passengers between England and Sydney.
Leaving Belfast, I went by railway to Portadown, thence by car to Armagh, and on to Monaghan. The country between and in the neighbourhood of these towns is a block of moderately high hills, reminding one not a little of parts of Devonshire, although of somewhat less elevation. On arriving at the station at Portadown, I was stuck up by a dozen at least of car-drivers, each endeavouring to possess himself of my portmanteau and wraps, and shouting out vigorously their respective fares, by way of inducing me to step on to one or other of the many cars in attendance. Fixing upon a driver whose horse seemed up to the work, I took my seat, and after a drive of an hour-and-a-half, I was landed at Armagh.
From the town of Belfast up to this point in my travels, I saw much to justify the statement that this part of Ireland was still in a thriving condition. The cultivation of oats seemed general, and the supply of pigs from the counties of Armagh and Monaghan, through which I was now passing, seemed to me unlimited. It was no longer a mystery to me where the pig meat, so celebrated all over the world, came from. But the further west that we travelled, the more striking seemed the change from plenty to poverty.
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It was sad, very sad, to have to look upon such an intensity of wretchedness. Having lived in a colony where the necessaries of life at least were within easy reach of all, it was painfully new to me to have to look upon men and women able and ready to work, unable to get work, and many of them perishing with hunger. Over and over again this is what happened:--On the arrival of coach or car at its destination, a dozen or more of women, mostly young, with children strapped on their backs, would gather round the vehicle, imploring passengers, for the love of God, to stretch forth a hand to help and save them. Thus appealed to, it was difficult to turn away from them without making some effort to relieve them. But after all, such small contributions as fell from the hands of stray travellers, were indeed but as a drop in the bucket in relation to the actual necessities of these starving people, and one felt at such times that, unable to relieve to an appreciable extent the destitution of the multitude swarming round one, it would perhaps have been better not to have put one's self in the way of such a sight.
Passing through the towns of Clones and Inniskillen, I reached Ballyshannon, lying at the head of Donegal Bay. The car-driver, who was more than ready to enter into conversation, entertained as well as enlightened me by his ceaseless talk. In speaking of the part of the country through which we were driving, of Repealers and of Orangemen, and of what he chose to call the interminable feud that raged between them, my friend rather startled me by declaring that he had but to shout in some particular manner, and that in less than no time, as he pithily expressed it, he could bring around him Repealers or Orangemen, who would not fail to carry out his orders, whatever they might involve. "Yes," said he, "there are now within ear-shot on the side of that hill yonder, men who would think nothing of knocking you on the head and bundling horse, car, and its contents into the lake." This interesting and very communicative car-driver called himself an Orangeman, but he seemed to me quite prepared to join either side in a scrimmage so soon as he clearly saw which side was going to win. He added that, although an Orange-man, he had never been formally admitted into the body--initiated, he called it--declaring that something in the nature of a ceremony not unlike that of the installation of a Mason was regarded as necessary.
The scenery along the banks of Lough Erne struck me as very
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beautiful, although the weather was somewhat against a thorough enjoyment of it. And all was to me so new, that I could hardly regret having carried out my intention of visiting the west of Ireland, and of seeing for myself how far the graphic accounts of the Times correspondent were borne out by facts. There are parts of Ireland in the west and in the south lovely to look upon; as beautiful, indeed, as the most picturesque spots of tourist-haunted continental lands, that year by year a large number of idlers and health-seeking invalids make it their business to visit.
Twenty-eight years, nearly, have elapsed since I visited Ireland, and made these notes which are now developing into a narrative of my tour, and, unhappily, it cannot yet be said that the condition of the country is altered for the better. Darker days than any up to that time experienced have visited the land, and we still go on hoping and praying that a better state of things may come about. So many causes may have contributed to bring about the present unhappy condition of the apparently doomed country, that I think it wise to refrain from pointing to any one great cause; and wiser still, not to talk dogmatically as to remedial measures. We can, and may, however, unite in a prayer that the day may come when even the recollection of all the wretched historical past of this beautiful land will be buried, and that peace, plenty, and prosperity may again be the lot of all its children.
During my travels in the west I had opportunities of travelling in Bianconi's cars. I am not aware whether these cars are still an institution in Ireland; I found them very comfortable, and could not help wondering why they were not more generally adopted as a means of conveyance throughout the country. The enterprising proprietor, Bianconi, an Italian, occupied in the west and south of Ireland at that time the position that the well-known firm of Cobb and Co. filled for so many years in the colonies before railways were constructed.
I have spoken of the destitution, the utter wretchedness, of the labouring class in Ireland at that time. That was too true; and yet, perishing as many were, there was a life and spirit, a bouyancy, left in the survivors--men, women and children, which no other people would have exhibited. I think it was here that one of Erin's blue-eyed daughters fairly floored me by a remark that she made to her companion, who was very persistent in imploring me to relieve her
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in her extremity. On either side of the hotel entrance-door was squatted a young mother with an infant in her arms. In an instant, on my showing myself, No. 1 was on her legs, imploring me to look with pity upon poor creatures less fortunate than myself; but No. 2 rebuked her for her bad manners, saying, "Don't be after bothering his honor; don't you see, woman, he's got it written all over his face, he'll give it us afore he goes." In asking my wife, nearly thirty-eight years after this pretty speech was made me, whether I could with propriety write it down in these "Recollections," she smiled, and said, "I think you had better, as it would seem to have been the first time in your life that such a speech had been made to you, and most likely it will be the last."
Leaving Longford, I pushed on to Athlone, and thence to Ballinasloe. For many miles after leaving Longford, a peat-bog stretches across the country, and presents as undesirable a feature in the scenery of the district as can well be imagined. During our drive to-day, we came up with large parties of men working on the roads, employed by the Board of Works at ten-pence a day.
Reaching Ballinasloe, we halted for the night, and on the following morning, making a seasonable start, we soon lost sight of Ballinasloe. Our course then lay through a country yielding a moderate crop of grass, and a more than moderate supply of stones. Judging, however, by the condition of the stock on all sides, the pasturage on this line of country must have been nutritious. But such an extent of country laid down to grass could hardly support such a population as that part of Ireland then contained.
I was somewhat disappointed in the town of Galway. But just read what the writer of "Ireland: its Scenery and Antiquities," says of Galway. He speaks of it as "the city of red petticoats," and it is further said that the "universality of the same brilliant colour in most other articles of female dress, gives a foreign aspect to the population, which prepares you somewhat for the completely Italian or Spanish look of most of the streets of the town."
Hurrying away from "the city of red petticoats," I took car to Limerick. "The banks of the Shannon, in the neighbourhood and above the town of Limerick, are not the least beautiful bit of scenery in beautiful Ireland." Limerick is a town of some importance. It has the unmistakable look of a busy, thriving, manufacturing town; is well kept and cared for; and is a credit to the district of which it
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forms the centre. In one respect the Shannon is spoken of as unequalled: from the sea to its head, a course of 200 miles, it is navigable throughout. In its flow it waters no fewer than ten counties.
From Limerick I took car to Killarney by way of Newcastle. The road over which we travelled to-day ran through an exceedingly rich line of country--as fair and as fat a land as I had up to this time looked upon in Ireland. This estimate of the country applies to the whole distance of our drive, up to within twenty miles or so of Killarney; the latter part is poor indeed, consisting mainly of unreclaimed peat-bog, which in those days (thirty-seven years ago) few men in Ireland seemed to have had enterprise or capital enough to undertake the reclamation of. In its then state it was wholly unproductive, and spoken of by most men as absolutely unre-claimable.
At Newcastle we encountered a formidable gathering of upwards of 500 men--ready, they said, to work, but apparently determined to insist upon conditions that the Board of Works seemed unable or unwilling to accept. From what we could make out, their grievance seemed to be that their work had to be inspected and approved by an agent of the Government, and their fear was that after having toiled all day, they might be told at night that their work was not done to the satisfaction of the inspector and not worth paying for.
Although these peat-bogs of Ireland in their natural state have an ugly look, and are unprofitable to the agriculturist, they are not without their advantages to the poor peasantry, who derive from them all their fuel. Great quantities of this peat or turf are besides transported from the bog of Allen to Dublin by means of long flat-bottomed boats, which ply on the canal. The phenomenon of a moving bog has frequently been seen in Ireland. Large portions of the surface, sliding or flowing from their original position, cover the adjacent country, and in many cases cause a great deal of damage by destroying arable land and overwhelming houses, corn, and haystacks.
Killarney is spoken of as the "Mecca of every pilgrim in search of the sublime and the beautiful in nature--the mountain paradise of the west." On reaching the lake, I lost no time in preparing for an excursion to the mountains. The contemplated trip involved some walking as well as boating. Provided with supplies of sandwiches and porter, we set out. When I asked my pleasant-faced guide how
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it had happened that I was suspected of being a porter-loving man, I was told that quite recently he had made the mistake of going into the mountains unprovided with drink, and that the tourist who had suffered by the omission had sworn at them for being such fools as to suppose that a man could walk or work all day without needing a stimulant to brace him up. Our boat's crew, however, had a very different tale to tell. They one and all boasted that they were followers of Father Matthew, and assured me that they were equal to a long day's work, never touching and never requiring stimulants of any kind. They certainly looked in perfect health and condition, and I am bound to admit they proved themselves first-class men in a boat. These total abstainers did the cause--total abstinenance--and its worthy promoter great credit. One of these robust rowers on the waters of Killarney further assured me that since he had wholly abstained from the use of stimulants he had gained considerably in weight and had lost somewhat in bulk.
Some years after the time of which I am wriring, I was told an amusing anecdote touching total abstinence, in which the great and good Bishop Selwyn figured as a principal. He had given a picnic to a large number of his flock, inviting the Governor of the colony and his friends. The Governor's Aide-de-Camp, knowing the Bishop to be a total abstainer, and suspecting that in the list of good things provided, wine would be wanting, smuggled into the hamper a couple of bottles of sherry. On unpacking the hamper, the black bottles caught the eye of the Bishop, who affecting great surprise at the discovery, said "Well, it is not much amongst so many, but one thing is quite clear, this is just one of those occasions where we ought all to share alike," emptying one of the bottles into one bucket of water, and the other into a second.
Ross Island is usually the first place visited by strangers in search of the picturesque. The castle, whose history is a little too long to be narrated here, stands on the largest island in the lower lake. The combination of island, mountain, and water is not inaptly spoken of as almost incomparable. Muckross Abbey is also one of the sights not to be overlooked. The view from the far-famed gap or pass of Dunloe was magnificent, and the autumnal tinge and variety of the foliage fringing the rocky slopes and descending far into the valleys, gave to all a singular beauty, making up a picture unlike, if not surpassing, anything that I had seen in England,
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Scotland, or on the continent of Europe. Passing through this rocky glen, your eye looks down on the upper lake, studded with islands of all shapes and sizes, and bounded by mountains rising almost perpendicularly from its margin.
Taking again to the boat, we shot through a narrow passage from the upper to the lower lake. Many accidents are said to have occurred in shooting this rapid. The character of the scenery of the lower lake is totally distinct from that of the middle or upper lakes. The lower lake is distinguished for its elegance and beauty, being studded with rocks and wooded islands covered with a variety of evergreens, while the upper, as I have already written, is remarkable for its wild sublimity and grandeur; the middle lake in a great degree combining the characteristics of the other two. There are lakes in Switzerland which, perhaps, for single views, excel either of the lakes of Killarney, but taking into account the peculiar atmosphere, the variety and grouping of the mountains, and the interest of the ruins on its shores, Killarney has no rival.
Muckross Abbey may well be spoken of as one of the most interesting monastic remains to be met with in Ireland. "Embosomed in the shade of lofty and venerable ash, oak, yew, elm, and sycamore trees, festooned with ivy of the darkest and most luxuriant foliage, it is more beautiful in its loneliness and decay than it could have been in its pristine state of neatness and perfection." I saw here on the banks of the lake, within stone's throw of the hotel where I stayed, the finest specimen of a red deer that I ever saw; but he was in no mood to be gazed at, and with a bound to show that he felt free to roam whither it pleased him, he was soon lost to view. I saw here, also, growing in their native habitat, many and beautiful specimens of the arbutus, loaded with berries which although looking marvellously like strawberries could hardly be said to resemble them in flavour.
Leaving Killarney, I travelled by coach to the city of Cork, passing almost within sight of Blarney. Blarney village lies within a few miles of Cork. The principal object of curiosity that it can boast is its old castle; in this castle there is a chamber called the " Earl's chamber." When Sir Walter Scott visited Blarney, in 1808, he entered this chamber and afterwards was present at the ceremonial of "kissing the blarney-stone." A curious tradition attributed to it the power of endowing all who kiss it with the sweet, persuasive, wheedling eloquence said to be so perceptible in the language of the
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Cork people, and generally termed "blarney." A Blarney laureate thus describes its virtue:
"There is a stone here, whoever kisses,
Oh! he never misses to grow eloquent;
'Tis he may clamber to a lady's chamber,
Or become a member of Parliament."
What I was about in those past days, when I was young and impressionable, to have refused to go five miles out of my way to kiss the "blarney stone," I shall never be able to explain; and what I have lost in not taking advantage of the opportunity of bringing myself within the influence of its mysterious power to put the finishing touch to my education, I can only speculate upon.
For some miles after leaving Killarney, our road lay through a country consisting very much of peat-bog, the reclamation of which had not at that time been systematically or extensively undertaken. As we proceeded we heard much of the unsettled state of the country. We were told that in the south, as well as in parts of the west, through which I had so lately travelled, a sufficiency of food--consisting of the mere necessaries of life--was not to be had for love or money, and it was feared that the people would perish by hundreds. Hearing this, one ceased to be very much surprised at their defiant attitude. It is a little unfair to blame people threatened with famine and starvation, when they rise up in their extremity and angrily demand bread for themselves, their wives and their families.
Leaving the county of Kerry, you enter that of Cork, and henceforth lose sight of bog-land, although, at the time of which I am writing, it was difficult to discover any marked signs of improvement in the physical condition of the people. That part of the county of Cork through which I was passing struck me as being equal in point of fertility to any of England's richest counties, and will, no doubt, under suitable treatment, yield its maximum of produce. The backward state of agriculture in Ireland at that time was admitted and deplored by all intelligent and experienced Irishmen, and accounted for by their saying that they had not the capital required to make the most of their lands.
I had heard much of the beautiful harbour of Cork, and was anxious to have a look at it, as it is generally spoken of as being not far off the best harbour in the world. Viewed from the rising ground
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immediately fronting the entrance, it appears commodious and secure, and in time of war would afford perfect shelter to any number of vessels. The entrance is strikingly narrow, and the large number of islands affording shelter to vessels lying inside, justifies all that has ever been said of its completeness and superiority to any other in that part of the world. I would at the same time like to guard myself against saying that it has not its equal throughout the known world; that would be at once to pronounce its superiority to Port Jackson (Sydney), an opinion hardly to be justified, and certainly not safe to be openly expressed in the presence of patriotic Australians.
I have heard men, both in and out of Ireland, grumble about its climate, speaking of it as the wettest of wet places. The moist-ness of the Irish climate is undoubtedly a fact, and is one of the peculiarities by which it is distinguished from that of our own adopted land. This condition of the atmosphere affects the colour of the grass, the scenery, and the complexion of its daughters. Since Ireland is known and spoken of all over the world as the " Emerald Isle," no words are needed to prove the first part of the statement. When poets write of it, they speak of its scenery as "presenting a clearness, a brilliancy, a dewy serenity, and a vivid freshness essentially its own." And when a matter-of-fact man, advanced in years, sits down to write of its women, all that he is in a mood to say of them is that they are as beautiful as they are brilliant. Away, then, with the notion that the climate of Ireland can be improved upon. A land in which the grass grows all the year round and is always green; where the landscape is ever varying, with lovely contrasts of light and shade; where the men are brave and the women beautiful, is to my mind about as near an approximation to perfection in nature as this world is ever likely to furnish.
Leaving the city of Cork, we reached Fermoy, where we were met by the oft-repeated tale of disturbance. The road from Cork to Fermoy passes through country exceedingly fertile, and in parts very picturesque-looking. From Fermoy to Clonmell, the country on either side of the road is, with little variation, first-class land and largely cultivated. After travelling over such an extensive area of grazing country in the west and in the south, it was a pleasant change to find myself again in sight of stacks of grain standing in the yards of the numerous small farms. In remarking upon this to a fellow-traveller, and in expressing my satisfaction at such evidences of
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fertility and prosperity, hoping that the day might soon come when what was exceptional would become general, he replied that the one want of the country was capital, and that without a liberal introduction of English capital into the land there was no certainty--no hope, even--of Ireland ever developing into a rich and prosperous country. This, with increased railway accommodation, he regarded as a sine qua non--a necessary first step in the resurrection of Ireland.
I next visited Thurles. Tipperary county at this time, rightly or wrongly, had the reputation of being one of the most disturbed districts in the south of Ireland. In the quality of its soil, it is all that travellers, newspaper men, and guide-books agree in representing it to be. Its remarkable fertility, however, does not seem to have raised the condition of the peasantry. At the hotel where I put up, I met with a young Irishman who proved an intelligent, agreeable, and communicative companion. He told some interesting anecdotes of the people and their ways, narrating his own experiences and adventures, some of which were not a little remarkable. He had travelled in other lands, and belonged to the class of Irishmen branded and denounced by Daniel O'Connell as absentees and the bane of Ireland. In speaking of "Young Ireland," he expressed his sympathy with them, and stated his conviction that the majority of the landlords were of the same mind as himself upon the matters in dispute between them and O'Connell.
On the following day I found myself in Dublin. I had thus completed the circuit of Ireland, but I had not yet seen its moving spirit. To see and to hear Daniel O'Connell was one of the objects that I confessed to on leaving England. I had now the opportunity, and I was determined to take advantage of it. To have left Ireland without seeing and hearing the man above all others so notorious, so historically interesting, and so successful in fascinating the minds of the masses, would have been an error of the first magnitude.
Presenting myself at the door of "Conciliation Hall," I paid my shilling and took my seat amongst hundreds of the great man's worshippers. It is as well to mention that the great question dividing the patriots at this time (1846) was that of "physical force" as opposed to "moral influence." O'Connell, the originator and eloquent exponent of the principles of "Repeal," proclaimed and maintained that physical force to bring about even a repeal of the
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union with England was, under no circumstances that could be foreseen, to be resorted to. Smith O'Brien, representing and expressing the principles and programme of "Young Ireland," held the opposite view--viz.,that physical force in the then crisis was a necessity; and that to talk of moral influence at such a time was neither more nor less than moonshine. Punctual to the time appointed, the great man entered, bowed, and set to work to prepare himself for the ceremony that was to follow, walking well forward on the platform that all eyes might be gladdened by a sight of him. By those who came to worship, he was rapturously received. Before commencing with the business of the meeting, the great " Liberator" (one of his pet names given by his admirers) opened a small box and drew therefrom a green silk velvet cap, artistically embroidered with gold thread; with something like ceremony he placed this on his head. His friends, his faithful admirers, had the look of men ready to yield obedience to his expressed wishes, to whatever issues they might tend. I had heard of O'Connell, both in the colony and in the old country, as one of the most eloquent of an eloquent race, and always spoken of as one of the most patriotic of Irishmen. I had read his speeches delivered on a variety of occasions when he was said to be at his best; speeches delivered in and out of Parliament; and I felt it somewhat of a privilege now to have an opportunity of hearing him. I came, I saw, but I had to go away confessing my disappointment. It was difficult to realize that the feeble old man before me was the same man who, only a few years before, swayed by a spirit of patriotism, had filled the minds, dazzled the imagination, and touched the hearts of so many of his countrymen. The little fire that animated him in his address that day was directed against the men who had dared to call in question the wisdom of his policy, and had presumed to branch off into an independent faction. He made many and touching appeals to the feelings and prejudices of his hearers, asking with trembling voice, who, in days gone by, had made greater sacrifices of health and happiness than himself to secure the privileges and prosperity of the people, the independence, the honour, and the glory of Ireland? and whether now, in his old age, in the maturity of his wisdom, he had not still the best right to be regarded as the leader of the people and the saviour of his country? This was the foundation and substance, the Alpha and Omega, of the speech of Daniel O'Connell on the only occasion that I had the opportunity of listening to him.
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His faithful friend and lieutenant, Tom Steele, followed his leader, varying the proceedings slightly by letting out freely in speaking of what he called England's political wickedness, not sparing her king, George the Fourth, branding and denouncing him as a "royal reptile."
It is always a sorrowful sight to have to look upon a man once so strong, shrunk into a shadow of his former self--a charred trunk in which the fire has gone out. His life, like that of many another patriotic heart, may be said to have been a failure, in that he failed to accomplish the passion of his life--the repeal of the Union--the political union of Great Britain and Ireland. But this great stake was not to be won by Daniel O'Connell. Obviously his day had gone by, his body was feeble with old age, and his soul had grown sick with disappointment. It could be seen at a glance that if Ireland was to conquer her independence, it would be through the beating of hearts younger than his, and by the blows of arms stronger to strike. But it takes a succession of men--certainly more than one man--or one generation, even, to bring about, to precipitate into symmetrical form, all that patriotism dreams of. The masses, made up of somewhat different material, practical men as they are called, are slow and short in their political stride, hesitate to act, and perhaps not unwisely agree to accept of a modicum, a percentage, of what enthusiasts sigh after and revolutionists strike for. Let some Englishmen say what they please of Daniel O'Connell, of his days and his doings; no one looking dispassionately at his career, and wisely and judicially weighing his surroundings, remembering what he was in his best and brightest days, will care to say less of him than that he was a great man, a patriot, and a statesman, trusted and worshipped by a multitude of men, and well beloved by relatives and friends.
Farewell to Ireland! a last farewell to its people. It is without doubt a land of beauty, of great fertility, and of great natural resources; but its condition, socially and politically, even now, is such that statesmen are at their wits' end to suggest measures calculated to make it a peaceful, a prosperous, and a happy home for its long and sorely-tried sons and daughters.