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and party feuds, and buried their ancient animosities in oblivion. Sir Robert Peel had emphatically remarked, when taking office, that “Ireland would be the chief difficulty,' and he soon found that these meetings, and the repeal agitation, did not tend to diminish his anxieties upon the affairs of the Emerald Isle.
At a meeting held at Tara, Mr. O'Connell took his station upon the hill on which the Celtic kings of his country had been crowned, in the days of Ireland's independence. He wore a cap resembling the ancient crown, and surrounded by a staff of friends in brilliant uniforms, he appeared the virtual king of Ireland. In his speech, he told the countless multitude which thronged around him, that Repeal must be conceded, and that too without one drop of Irish blood being shed in the contest; but at the same time, he proudly announced that, if necessary, he could call at any time into the field an effective force of 500,000 fighting men, ready to enforce their demands at the peril of their lives. These announcements were made in different forms at most of these meetings, and the government, which had long watched his proceedings with suspicion, at last determined to interfere. They chose their opportunity ; a monster meeting was appointed to come off at Clontarf, on the 8th of October, 1843, but on the day preceding, the viceroy issued a proclamation forbidding the meeting, and declaring it illegal. It was one of the great points of Mr. O'Connell's career, that he carefully avoided any collision with the law. He therefore caused a countermanifesto to be issued, calling upon the people to remain at home, and scrupulously abstain from any act of violence; to place implicit confidence in him, and he would guarantee Repeal. His word was law to the Irish nation; they obeyed, and the peace was preserved. The government, however, could not stop here; a few days after, they arrested. Mr. O'Connell and the leading members of the Repeal Association, on charges of conspiracy and sedition. O'Connell was required to put in bail, himself in £1000, and two sureties in £500 each. The whole of the Michaelmas term
following, was occupied in settling the preliminaries, and the trial itself did not commence till the 16th of January, 1844. Twelve gentlemen of the bar appeared on behalf of the Crown, and sixteen others defended the accused. Before the trial commenced, O'Connell took an objection to the very unfair means by which the jury list had been selected, and denied the legality of any jury chosen from a deficient and mutilated record. The trial was notwithstanding persevered in, and the attention of the court was engaged for twenty-five days. A volume would scarcely comprise the speeches and evidence, and our limits forbid us giving even an outline, but this is the less to be regretted, as the details are part of the national history of Ireland's struggle for independence, rather than the private biography of the individuals concerned. Mr. O'Connell's defence was made with his accustomed talent and legal acumen, but it was in vain, judge and jury had alike predetermined that their verdict should be guilty, and after a tedious deliberation, they announced their decision to that effect.
The sentence was not passed 'till the 30th of May, when Daniel O'Connell was condemned to be imprisoned for twelve months, to pay a fine of £2000, and to be bound in his own security in £5000, and two other securities in £2500 each, to keep the peace for seven years. In pursuance of this sentence, he was committed to the Richmond Penitentiary, Dublin. His residence here was rather a series of triumphs than a punishment. Consolatory addresses were presented by deputations of the most influential inhabitants from all parts of Ireland, and the visits of his friends and supporters were so numerous, that he was compelled to appoint stated days for their reception. He was viewed by the nation as a martyr, and honoured accordingly.
But Mr. O'Connell was not the man to tamely acquiesce in an unjust sentence. He was no sooner imprisoned than he appealed to the House of Lords by a writ of error. The case was duly heard by the legal peers, and after an unusually lengthened inquiry, the judgment of the inferior court
was reversed, Lords Lyndhurst and Brougham being of opinion that the sentence should be confirmed, while Lords Denman, Campbell, and Cottenham, formed a majority on the opposite side.
Mr. O'Connell and his friends were liberated immediately this decision was known in Dublin. He was at once surrounded by a numerous body of friends, who hastened to congratulate him on the event, and a lengthened procession escorted him from the prison to his residence in Merrion Square. This was a proud day for our hero, he had defeated his enemies, and that too with their own weapon, THE LAW; but this was the last of his victories, his popularity and his success had raised up foes, traitors in the ranks of Repeal, who envied him his well-deserved and hard-earned supremacy. That which the goverment of Great Britain could not effect, though backed with all the wealth and talent their position enabled them to command, was at length achieved by the restless ambition of a few young men more anxious to acquire notoriety for themselves than to benefit their country. Selfwilled and impatient of the control of a master-spirit, they rebelled against the Liberator; deriding his love of peace, they advocated violence and an appeal to arms, and when defeated in their desire to carry these theories into practice, they fomented disunion in the Association, and finaily separated themselves from it, and founded an independent body, known as “Young Ireland."
The conduct of these persons was a source of the greatest anxiety to Mr. O'Connell; in vain he at first commanded, and afterwards argued, and then alternately solicited and threatened; he laboured by every available method to heal the wound, and re-unite all the friends of Ireland under the same banner. The seceders were obstinate, but talented and enthusiastic, and their party rapidly increased in numbers, wealth, and influence. Their progress was most painful to our hero; he felt that he was no longer a young man, and that advancing years and a decaying constitution precluded him from entering upon the combat with a fair chance of success, and a war with his
own countrymen and co-religionists, even if victorious in its termination, was a combat from which no honour could result.
The return of the Whig party to office, when the Peel cabinet was defeated on the Irish Coercion Bill in 1846, was hailed by Mr. O'Connell as the harbinger of good to Ireland, and he lent his influence to their support, that he might enforce his country's claims with a better prospect of their attainment, and though he could not be accused of abating the slightest portion of his demands on her behalf, his ci-devant friends made his adhesion to the Whig ministry a ground of complaint, and lavished upon him as much opprobrium as if he had been guilty of the meanest subserviency for the advancement of his private interests.
In addition to the vexation arising from this source, O'Connell had now to contemplate the frightful prospect of famine pervading the land of his birth. The failure of the potato crop was general throughout the country, and the starving peasantry who had so looked up to him as their Benefactor and Liberator, now trusted in his abilities to provide them with food. He felt, that although he could overthrow cabinets, and set viceroys at defiance, against the dispensations of Providence he was powerless. Our readers will readily believe that all that mortal wisdom, great experience, and individual effort could effect, he accomplished. He was incessantly importunate in calling upon the British Government, and Imperial Legislature, to partially repair the injuries of a nation whom their misgovernment and oppression had reduced to the necessity of subsisting upon a single vegetable, and that one the nature of which would not permit of any accumulation beyond the annual consumption. His labours in this cause would be most gratifying to record, but our rapidly diminishing space bids us hasten to the important, though melancholy task of chronicling the events of the last illness and death of our hero,
Mr. O'Connell left Ireland for the last time, on the 20th of January, 1847. His health was far from good, but he hoped that his presence in Parliament might be instrumental in the alleviation of Irish distress, and he was not the man to study self when he could be useful to his country. He soon discovered, however, that he was no longer equal to the toils of midnight legislation, and after remaining but a short time in London, his medical attendants advised him to visit the coast, and he removed to Hastings. The physicians whom he consulted, all agreed, that nothing less than a change of air, and a total abstraction from the excitement of politics, could be of avail in restoring his health. After a brief stay at Hastings, he consequently embarked for the continent, ac panied by his son Daniel and the Rev. Dr. Miley.
Mr. O'Connell proceeded direct to Paris, and on his arrival there was waited upon by the leading men of all the great parties in the French capital, and he was only restrained by the delicate state of his health from being invited to numerous public demonstrations of the high esteem in which he was held ; a convincing proof, if any were needed, that his fame was not alone Irish, but European. The Parisian physicians, like their English brethren, recommended travelling and a residence in a warmer climate; these measures they deemed sufficient to overcome his malady, and they flattered his friends with the hope that O'Connell's life might still be spared for some years.
The futility of these expectations were but too soon made evident. He decided upon a journey to Rome, to pay that homage to the holy city that every true Catholic is desirous to render, and left Paris for Lyons on the 29th of March ; the weather was very severe, and twelve days were occupied in travelling to the latter city, and he at last only arrived in a very debilitated state. After a few days' rest, he slightly rallied, and again set forward by way of Valence and Avignon, whence he descended the Rhone to Marseilles, which he reached early in May. Mr. O'Connell's health experienced a still further amendment while resting here.
A voyage of a single day sufficed to reach Genoa, the farthest point of his earthly pilgrimage-a city which has thus