Reported in The Limerick Reporter, 24 March, 1848. The speech follows the arrest of Mitchel, William Smith O’Brien and Thomas Francis Meagher, each charged with sedition. Having each posted bail, the three men then gave addresses to a nationalist procession at D’Olier Street, headquarters of the Irish Confederation.
Mr. Mitchel then presented himself at the window, but so eager were the crowd to hear him, that (not adopting the safer movement of Mr. O’Brien, who put one leg through the window, holding on with his hand,) he was compelled to stand outside on the ledge, under the window, being held from within by the skirts of his coat. He was received with a deafening cheer, and said—
Citizens of Dublin—I also have been thought worthy of being included along with Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Meagher, in this criminal proceeding against the Irish people by the Government of England.
And I tell you this—their prosecutions do not signify a rush. A criminal prosecution takes its value and force only from the way in which it is met. Now, I say—watch how this attack is met by those who are assailed; and if you see them shrink or blench one hair’s breadth—if they do not take care continually to repeat the offence with the aggravations, brand them as cowards and traitors.
I am charged with ‘writing seditious articles, having a tendency to inflame the minds of the people, and excite discontent.’ I did write seditious articles, and I will write seditious articles. I will incite the people to discontent and to disaffection. I know no reason why they should be content—why they should be well affected towards the Government of England.
On the day this Confederation was formed, I, as you may remember, came forward and declared myself a disaffected subject, and promise to devote myself continually to excite disaffection in others. I think I have kept that promise; and, come what may, I will continue to do so.
I say further, my friends, that instead of Government being able, by criminal proceedings, to put down determined men in this country—if you, if the country, will stand by us and sustain us, you and I will overthrow the Government.
Mr. Mitchel withdrew amidst tremendous cheering. All the time he had been speaking, a thick rain was descending, but not one of the multitude stirred.