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reeled. Great numbers were Catholics, --were all men,--and continued discussion had completely shaken their minds. They had no taste to butcher persons, whose sole offence was, that they professed the religion held by many of themselves.
To blunt their bayonets in the hearts of men struggling for their rights, seemed, to brave soldiers, base and cruel. The next great step was the formation of Brunswick Clubs, by which the country was divided into two large though utterly disproportioned battalions, But, to add to the effect of this, so shameless and naked was the lust for blood displayed at those meetings, particularly by clergymen of the Established Church, that they seemed to have been made drunk, by the Association, with some sanguinary mixture, and turned out on the platform to disgust the world with the cause which they vomited out, in raw and undigested pieces, into the bosom of public decency. Something similar to this, but much weaker in effect was lately produced by the denunciation of dandy officers. 6 Let the Lords kick out the Reform Bill, and leave us to deal with the people—let us at the Unions.” Prudent persons heard this language with misgiving as to the effect; humane persons with aversion; and brave men with contempt. The result was exactly opposite; and these bullyings were certainly then, as they always will be, when addressed to such a nation as the British, the most direct means of advancing Reform. Lord Plunket said, in the House of Lords, with perfect truth, that the Brunswick Clubs were the fast friends of Emancipation. But, to put an end to all doubt in the minds of Government, the Clare election came like a thunderclap. On the evening of the first day, Emancipation was carried The dream was at an end:-the stern reality stood before the Duke of Wellington, that he had not the power of a constable in Ireland. He frightened the King; and, with the reluctant aid of Mr. Peel, passed Emancipation.
Having thus crowded into our canvass the principal measures of the Association, we would solicit the reader's attention to those particular parts of it in which Mr. O'Connell shows so conspicuously the advantages it dispensed ; and to a brief
examination of the objections to similar national combinations. The advantages we will find to have been,—that it raised the character of the people—established a useful system of national education—taught respect for law, and extinguished the habits of insurrectionary outrage, which despair of other redress had produced,-and, finally, taught the mode of effecting great changes in law, by the sole force of public opinion. The fountain head of its utility was, that, recognising no other instrument but general discussion-a demonstration, by facts and reasonings, of the mischief of the system- its effects were peaceably produced; and, therefore, along with the immediate blessings of such conduct, carried with them the principle of permanent improvement. Never was a charge more untrue, than that it inculcated a disrespect of law. It certainly did not inculcate a reverence for the infamous code it was devoted to abolish—it did not teach respect for laws to which no respect was due, while common sense, as well as common feeling, shewed it was useless to hold it up for any purpose but public reprobation. It did not recommend to gratitude or support a government framed in the spirit of hostility to the immense majority of its subjects; but the distinction between law in general and the penal code, was so strongly drawn, that it forms one of its striking characteristics. The Association was wholly moulded in its form by the measure of law. During the period of its existence, no one illegal or seditious act could be laid to its charge. But it did much more; it demonstrated, in the clearest manner, the folly of those fierce insurrections by which the peasantry had endeavoured to crush their oppressors. It proved, and impressed on Ireland as a principle of action, the truth that, in free states, law is best, safest, and most permanently changed by law—that wild plunges aggravate the distress, and that midnight outrage adds tenfold weight to the iron hand of misrule.
But political unions are said to be inconsistent with good government; depending for success upon general discussion, they interfere only in extensive grievances. They require, as the condition of their existence, evils evils afflicting not one class or trade, but the bulk of the community. Take away from them the broad surface of misgovernment—no matter what be its intensity-confine it to a few, and they perish. It is childish to say they influence the popular mind with imaginary wrongs. This betrays profound ignorance of the world. The great difficulty is to move men, but, beyond all, to move a nation. Great judgment, great eloquence, are not sufficient, without great and continual suffering—broad, palpable, permanent wrong. The means adopted by political unions are directly repugnant to the truth of the charge. If, then, complaints are well founded, they are, they must be, the greatest idiots alive who subject them to the scrutiny of eternal inquiry. None but sterling metal can bear long circulation. If merely washed over-without any refined process, by no more than casual rubbing—the gilding wears away, and the utterer of the counterfeit coin is detected. Experience is totally opposed to those who represent the mass of a nation, giddy, false, and quarrelling with their food. These calumnies are poor devices of misgovernment, and refute themselves. It may be said, the people are sometimes subject to delusions—to furious paroxysms, in which their strength is directed against their permanent interests. Granted: but it is in the exact ratio of their ignorance. It was a sense of that which produced political unions. It was a perception of the necessity of diffusing accurate knowledge, of ascertaining the exact cause of the national suffering, of bringing all classes together,-- from their various evidence, deducing the real seat of the disease, and substituting, as a remedy, the force of reason and opinion, for secret conspiracy, that mainly created them. The great objection to improvement was the evils through which it was supposed we must necessarily wade before we attained it: but discussion, influencing opinion, produces, within the shell of existing law, a new body, which gradually absorbs and supersedes the old. All is smooth, regular, and in the ordinary course of nature. Particle is replaced by particle, until at length—while the
general shape has been preserved, and its functions interrupted by a change analogous to that in the human frame--good institutions are gradually substituted for bad; but the living principle of impartial justice continues, during the change, to preside through society. The power of political unions bears an exact proportion to the state of education. In barbarous countries, they cannot exist for an hour. So that the very nature of their power contains within itself an effectual check upon abuse. The Association felt this, and founded a national system of education. They worked by enlightening the people. Observing that, in all ages, an ignorant population is disposed to conspiracies, insurrections, and wild massacres, as the means of escaping from oppression; and clearly discerning, not merely the wickedness, but the total inutility of these, they inculvated peace, and taught patience. But as such preachings would have been properly despised, if offered in the nakedness of a servile morality, they shewed that they were the surest means of ameliorating their condition, when combined with other measures. Accordingly, the quantity of political and general information they threw out, was incredible. Secret meetings, conspiracies, ribbon associations, were abandoned; and the efforts of the people for redress, rushed, in the light of day, along the channels of the constitution, They raised the national character, and were raised along with it. Broader principles, measures of a more general utility, and a nobler style of oratory, were necessary to suit a whole nation. Never was there a more magnificent spectacle. In Brazil, they judge of the richness of mines contained in their mountains by the loudness of the echoes in a thunder storm; and the noble spirit of the Irish people was evinced by the manner in which it replied to the eloquence of the Association. Poor peasants, humble farmers, for their country and religion, made the most heroic sacrifices. Ties, thought almost omnipotent, burst like twists of rotten silk, when put in competition with duty. Money and influence were despised. Men who never had £5 at a time in their lives, during the Waterford election produced the notes that had been offered them, in open court, and flung them in the faces of Lord Beresford's agents. It was in vain to threaten them with the vengeance of their land lords. As they said themselves, “they would sooner die, than demean themselves in the presence of the whole country;" and the spirit was fully shared even by their wives and daughters. But what rendered this enthusiasm more striking, was the extraordinary self command that controlled and sustained it. At the elections in 1825, but particularly at the Clare election, the order and peaceableness were amazing. It fully proved how thoroughly penetrated the humblest classes were with the nature of their cause, and the mode in which it could be injured. So far from the usual riots, there was not one breach of the peace, not a blow struck, except by an enemy. Every thing hent to "the good of the country.” The Association shewed the necessity of sobriety; and not a glass of whisky was drunk. It inculcated and demonstrated the necessity of peace. A man was struck, we believe, by a policeman, he stopped, looked at him, and said, “Do that, this day week! ” A freeholder, quito exhausted, asked for a drink of water. A priest poured out a glass of whisky : the man said, “ Sure, we were desired not to drink whisky during the election," and spilled the liquor on the ground. The same feeling was shared by thousands. Enormous masses of the peasantry preserved the peace. The whole county was a policeman. Military men were more astonished at these circumstances than at any other, The discipline, the organization, the enthusiasm, and the universal feeling. produced the most profound impression on their minds. They said that such a people could not be oppressed with impunity; and of course, their representations were not disregarded by the Duke of Wellington.
But there was a still more formidable feature. It is one of the direct consequences of the system of Political Unions, that it effects changes, as has been observed, peaceably, by not only combining the oppressed, but by converting the very instruments of oppression to its side, The legs are knocked from under tyranny. The cements of a corrupt self-interest run like