(The Irish Felon, No. 3)

The English government is determined, it seems, to conquer and carry this office by quick assault or wearing siege. Of the hundred banners hoisted against England here, how comes it that the Felon-flag was the first to be assailed, and the second to be assailed? Is it deemed the most dangerous, or the most defenceless—the feeblest or the most formidable?

The answer is at hand. The Castle and Conciliation, the Castle and the Confederation, the Castle and the one hundred Club-rooms, may stand together in this island; the Castle and THE FELON office cannot stand together—one or other must give in or go down.

The hand of the English government points to this journal as the foe which it hates and fears the most. If Ireland be desirous that it shall not sink, overborne by repeated assaults, there is one sure way to support and sustain it, and but one alone. I now do what I have deferred too long—I appeal to Ireland to come to the relief of her assailed and endangered fortress; and I claim, for sake of her own success and safety, to have the fortress manned and provided—its garrison increased, its defences strengthened.

I demand the immediate formation of a joint-stock company to take Mr. Martin’s place, if he should be crushed, and to continue this journal under its present or some other name.

I am proposing no new or untried idea. The Times, I believe, has upwards of one hundred proprietors, or had at one time; the Siècle (French paper) has some thousand owners. In every undertaking, and line of business, joint-stock proprietorship is taking the place of individual ownership. What is there to put the newspaper office out of the track and operation of the same principle?

The advantages of applying it in the case of the Felon are obvious and easy to appreciate. An individual may be overborne or overawed, conquered, cowed or corrupted, bought, banished, or beaten down; an individual may be fettered or altogether unfitted, by connections or circumstances, or inadequate means, by private views or personal jealousies; an individual may die.

A corporation or company cannot die, nor easily be conquered or committed for felony. More to show is needless. If this plan should be approved and accepted by public opinion to any efficient extent, the principles it should be carried out on are these, so far as they require to be stated now. Into details I need not enter: –

  1. The company ought to be as numerous as possible—to consist of, say, from 400 to 1,200 proprietors.
  2. Every one, and each of them, should be a known firm supporter of the felon principles of this journal. Absolutely requisite this.
  3. The shares ought each to be very low in amount—perhaps the price of each might be fixed at £1, £2 or £2 10s. Any proprietor may, perhaps, be allowed to take as many shares as he chooses, within certain limits.
  4. No share to be transferable, except to a party approved and accepted by a majority of the proprietors.
  5. Some one or other of the shareholders to be selected and appointed as the registered and responsible proprietor, with a salary.
  6. Four of five competent editors to be engaged, or, indeed a great number if possible.
  7. Surplus profits of the paper, beyond a certain fixed amount (reserving or replacing proprietor’s capital) to be devoted to advancing the public’s objects for which it will have been established.
  8. Englishman and Scotchmen to be admissible as proprietors; and one at least of the editors to be an English Chartist of known talent and honesty. He must of course be strictly felonious, and fully prepared to aid and abet, and assist in a “premature insurrection”, within the next one hundred years at farthest, as we cannot possibly afford to admit any of these doubtful characters into the establishment who first help to blow up a flame, and then help to blow it out by the free and easy use of the words “premature” “incendiary,” etc.

Into further explanation or detail it is needless to go for the present.

Am I fully understood? It is needless to say more. Am I half understood?—It is sufficient. I can make or enable no man to think—I can only help him.

There may possibly be impediments or objections to this scheme which I have overlooked. If so, I desire to be made acquainted with them; and also to be aided by suggestions for making it more efficient. These I respectfully request to have stated, as briefly as possible, by letter (and not otherwise) addressed to Mr. Joseph Brennan, FELON Office, Trinity Street.

The letters must be short. A longer letter than two pages of notepaper, I never read, more especially if it be eloquently written. I hate eloquence on all subjects, particularly on little subjects.

Immediate written applications and proposals absolute or conditional, addressed to Mr. Brennan, are requested from parties desirous to become shareholders in the undertaking.

From the company I propose, and then—before they “squelch” Ireland, they must “squelch” the FELON Office. Ha! “squelch” it—by heavens—“squelch” it! It is good. No middle course can answer that. Your knee to the ground—or death and defiance, oh Ireland!

JAMES F. LALOR