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From The United Irishman (No. 9), 8th April 1848.
MY LORD, – What “dirty work” is this you have been about! Are you the amiable and ameliorative CLARENDON of six months ago? The philanthropic CLARENDON? The Philharmonic CLARENDON? The rotation, practical-instruction, and green-crop CLARENDON? The statesman so mild, and yet so firm, who frequented the literary re-unions, and distributed prizes so gracefully, and took quite a kind of interest in Irish talent? Why, it seems to be a rotation of plots you want, a green-crop of burglarious street-riots, a harvest of bloody corpses; – your practical instructions now are in suborning private treasons; and the Irish talent you take the deepest interest in developing is the talent of the Irish detective!
Irish weavers want work, – Irish farmers are broken, horse and foot, – Irish masons, carpenters, wheel-wrights, mill-wrights, coach-makers, and sawyers, are fast going to the poorhouse; in every department (except, of late, in the blacksmiths’ forges) the hand of the industrious lies idle in his bosom: – but the trade in swearing begins, under your Lordship’s gracious auspices, to revive somewhat; blood-money is changing hands; perjury is looking up; the Irish Spy lives and thrives once more, wears good clothes, sees good company, and “goes to the Castle.”
Will anyone say that your Lordship has not “ameliorated the social relations” of the Irish people?
But what base and filthy company your Excellency keeps! Ah! But it is not you, I suppose? It is Colonel BROWNE’S department. Your Lordship is much too enlightened and amiable to have anything to do with such dirty work; the worthy Police Commissioner gets it all done himself, quite on “his own responsibility,” he says, and you know nothing about it! Your Lordship’s precious life is supposed to be threatened at a St. Patrick’s ball, and, behold! A corps of gentlemanly detectives, in tabinet waistcoats, appear in the vice-regal drawing-rooms, smiling, dancing, making love, – and you never the wiser; it was just Colonel BROWNE’s own thoughtful care for you, on his own responsibility. Thus, also, an outrising is confidently expected on a given day; Colonel BROWNE tells you so; you write to London in a terrible fright – you cry out for horse, foot, and artillery; ten thousand men surround you, prepared for war and slaughter; they bar you up in your Castle, and mount guard day and night at your door; – and you, good, easy man, don’t know how or where BROWNE got his information; you have not the curiosity to inquire; you upturn the Horse Guards, ungarrison England, and levy war in Ireland, on BROWNE’s “responsibility.”
Yet BROWNE’s office is in your house; you cannot go into or out of your own door without being jostled by some of BROWNE’s familiars, as they pass and re-pass, weaving their nets for men’s lives and honours. I fear BROWNE’s responsibility will not do; I fear you hire these rascals yourself, instruct them yourself, and pay them yourself (with our money), through BROWNE and his responsibility. You want a small insurrection, and one of them goes out and brandishes a pike, and bawls for liberty. You want an alarm created amongst the better classes, and BROWNE’s men fly out of your Castle, some by Cork-hill gate, some by Ship-street, some by Dame-street, and straightway there are a thousand anxious whisperings about breaking houses, robbing banks, plundering shops. You want clandestine pikes made, to justify your butcherly preparations in public opinions, and one of your spies gives his order with a mysterious air, saying he wants the tool for the insurrection. It may be, contrary to all belief, that BROWNE does all these atrocities of his own mere notion; but public opinion attributes every atrocity of them to your Lordship, and I agree with public opinion.
In the first letter which I did myself the honour to address to you in THE UNITED IRISHMAN – you remember it well – I told you plainly that spies and informers would be of no use to you; that we meant to abolish their trade – that the movement then about to commence should be, in all parts, open, public, and above-board; that you would be told the very worst of it; if not worse than the worst, every Saturday, regularly, in the papers; and that I had no objection to your opening all my letters in the Post-office, provided they were forwarded without losing a post.
Well, you did not believe me; you did not, unhappy Whig that you are, even understand me. The idea of men preparing in broad day-light to overthrow a powerful government, by force, and giving a programme of their plans beforehand, seemed to you wholly absurd. You were sly – you thought there was something under it; so you re-doubled your detective force, opened all your Argus-eyes and Dionysius-cars, and watched, and listened. Of course your battalion of testimony undertook their duties – why not? Men must live, and the times are sad: – and the worthy fellows, having nothing particular to tell, invented astounding intelligence, and told that. They have been humbugging you, taking you to the fair, doing you, and selling your lordship a bargain; and they have made a very good thing of it, have lived well, and, I am told, moved in the selectest circles, taking countesses down to supper, the scoundrels! – Lest your Excellency should be shot in your own ball-room.
Will you give car to me, then at length? I am about to tell you all that is going on, and all that is in contemplation. First. – The Irish people are providing themselves, just as fast as their means and opportunities enable them, with weapons of various kinds, for which they have conceived a sort of divine passion; no holier fervour since the crusades has possessed any nation of men – not to rob houses, as you, through your reptile spies, give out – not to attack “person or property,” as your Queen’s prime minister dares to affirm – not to abolish “social order,” or rights of property, or sayings of industry, as your rascal press prints twelve times a-week. No, my lord; the young men of Ireland arm for a nobler enterprise; they arm to defend person and property against brigands of the “law” and harpies of the “government” – they arm to make social order possible, and to secure to industry its just reward: – they arm to scourge you and your Commissioners, detectives, aid-de-camps, butchers, and stranglers, forth from the island of Ireland with rods of steel.
Second – The Irish People are busy organizing themselves in “sections” and “classes,” and appointing their officers, so that each man may know his left-hand and his right-hand comrade, and the man whose word he will obey.
Third – The Irish People, or a competent number of them, will simply continue so to arm, and so to organize, openly, my lord, fearlessly, zealously, with passionate ardour, with fervent prayer, morning and evening, for the blessed hour when that organization may find itself ranked in battle array, and when those arms may wreak the wrongs of Ireland in the dearest hearts’-blood of her enemies.
Fourth – The Irish People will, by their mildness, their moderation, their love of order and respect for property, convince those who live in good houses and wear good clothes, that the armament is not against them – that your lordship, and the prime minister, and the detectives, have foully belied this nation, when you gave out that “social order” was in danger, and that pillage and massacre were intended: – that in fine, the sole enemy against whom we arm is the government of England in Ireland, and that no Irishman is our foe, unless he comes forth to maintain that government with armed hand.
Fifth – The People of Ireland will continue to cultivate friendly relations with the people of England, who are as deeply sworn to abolish that “empire” of fraud and blood, as we are. And we and they together, by the destruction and dismemberment of this thrice-accursed “empire,” will give the “three kingdoms” each to its own people, with all their wealth and resources, material and moral, to hold, enjoy, and govern the same for ever.
There now – you have it all – your detectives can tell you no more. There is no day fixed for taking the Castle; indeed you will know that day as soon as we, and, in all probability, you will fix it yourself.
You will not, I am sure, believe this plain statement; you will conclude that there is some horrid occult meaning under it; you will send forth your spies to the four winds, and cover the land with a cloud of witnesses. Yes; I know that; I mean it. Our policy is to mislead you, and confound your politics, by telling you the simple truth; and we will totally disconcert you at the last moment by doing the very thing you were always told we would do.
As for me, my lord, your lordship’s humble correspondent, – you have been told that I am mad – a dangerous lunatic, labouring under cacoethes seribendi. Do not believe it; I am merely possessed with a rebellious spirit; and think I have a mission, – to bear a hand in the final destruction of the bloody old “British Empire,” the greedy, carnivorous old monster, that has lain so long, like a load, upon the heart and limbs of England, and drunk the blood and sucked the marrow from the bones of Ireland. Against that Empire of Hell a thousand thousand ghosts of my slaughtered countrymen shriek nightly for vengeance; their blood cries continually from the ground, for vengeance! Vengeance! And Heaven has heard it. That buccaneering flag, that has braved so long the battle and the breeze, flies now from a ship in distress; the Charybdis of Chartism roars under her lee – the breakers of Repeal are a-head, and the curses of the world swell the hurricane that rages round her, pirate and blood-stained slaver that she is, filled with dead men’s bones, and with all uncleanness. Her timbers are shivering at last –
Quamvis Pontica pinnus,
Sylvae filia nobilis –
She will not never float in harbour more. On the day she goes to pieces, all the ends of the earth will give three cheers.
To help this grand work of necessity and mercy is my highest ambition upon earth; and I know no better way to do it than to make Ireland arm for battle. To me it is a grateful and blessed sound, this cry – “The People are arming.” Thank GOD, they are arming. Young men everywhere in Ireland begin to love the clear glancing of the steel, and to cherish their dainty rifles as the very apple of their eyes. They walk more proudly; they feel themselves more and more of men. Like the Prussian students (when this work had to be done for Prussia), they take the bright weapon to their hearts, and clasp their virgin sword like virgin brides.
How long will your detectives, your swearers, your villainous back-stairs panders to the hangman, check this noble passion – this most holy crusade? Think of it well. I remain, my lord, with profoundest contempt,
Your very obedient servant,
P.S. – I had some thought of addressing to you an expostulation about the packing of our juries next term. I fancied some feeling of decency, or even of justice, might induce you to give orders that the ordinary but disgraceful practice of the Crown-office should be reversed. I have changed my mind. He who employs a spy will pack a jury; and I, for one, scorn to appeal for anything to a man who lays a plot for massacre. Pack away, then, if you dare. I expect no justice, no courtesy, no indulgence from you: and if you get me within your power, I entreat you to show me no mercy, as I, so help me God, would show none to you.