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From the United Irishmen (No. 6), 18th March, 1848.
MY LORD, – The city of Dublin has been thrown into a mighty ferment this week by you and your aide-de-camps, and other deputy and assistant butchers. One who prided himself on being “charitable,” as I do not, might in his charity suppose that you feel simply ashamed this morning for having caused so many peaceful citizens, and their wives, to lose their sleep, last night, and who knows how many nights? – Listening breathless for the first roar of the insurrection.
I am not so “charitable.” I believe you are disappointed that you have lost the occasion of making a terrible example of the disaffected Irish. The pretence of governing this country by what you call “law” having been finally abandoned, the edge of the sword was your only hope. This policy is distinctly marked out for you by the Morning Chronicle (one of the organs of your masters, the Jews) in an article of last week. The writer says, speaking of Ireland –
“A British government ought not, except in circumstances of peculiar extremity, to run the chance of being baffled in a court of law by political offenders; and it can afford to abstain from such proceedings, because it is conscious that it will not be baffled by them in the field or the street. The moment the fighting begins, we have them.”
It is true, this butchering plan of government has long been the only one at bottom relied on for Ireland. The show of governing by “law,” that was sometimes resorted to, has become too transparent; the trick of packing castle-juries by means of jugglers for sheriffs, and retired wizards for clerks of the crown, has really grown too stale; and it was too well watched, and in fact blown. Happily, that imposture is given up, and any body who has heretofore deluded himself with the idea that there is a “constitution” in Ireland – even your friends and allies, the Messrs. O’Connell, who would be satisfied with the smallest shred, thread, patch, or tatter, of constitution, – must now at last see the terms on which we stand with respect to you and your government – terms, namely, of mortal hate and defiance.
The events of the last week are valuable, because they prove this, and set it at rest. The people of Dublin intimated their wish to hold a peaceful public meeting on St. Patrick’s Day, to congratulate the people of France, and express their sympathy with the French Republic. Nobody had advised, or suggested, or hinted, that the citizens should attend that meeting armed, or should, either in going to it or returning, excite any tumult, assault any passenger, or break any window – far less, storm your Excellency’s Castle, and then and there extinguish foreign rule in Ireland, which, however desirable, is evidently not to be done by an unarmed multitude in the face of a powerful and prepared garrison, under arms day and night, with cannon pointed and matches burning, distributed through the city in such positions as to enfilade every street; and especially while there is bright moonlight, and the measure of cutting the gas-pipes would not avail. In short, there was not, as you well know, the slightest danger of expectation of the meeting of Trades ending in an insurrection; but inasmuch as you, and the government you serve, hate and fear the French Republic, and the French People, and can ill endure that those who abhor the Union Jack should publicly hail and bless the Tri-colour – for this reason it suited you to devise a panic, and pretend to believe that what was announced as a peaceful meeting was really intended as a rebellion. All your newspapers, both in London and Dublin, helped you in this plot: and thus we hear of all the grind-stones of all the barracks being worn down with the whetting of cavalry sabres, for the bowels of Dublin citizens; – of English military officers being sworn in as extemporaneous magistrates, that they may read the “riot act,” as they lead a charge of bayonets; – of all the public stables being occupied by dragoons, and their horses shod with plates of iron, or, in some cases, as I hear, with gutta percha, that they may come upon us, at full gallop, with the velvet step of tigers – on the principle of Lear’s paternal contrivance: –
“It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
A troop of horse with felt. I’ll put it in proof;
And when I have stolen upon those sons-in-law,
Then, kill, kill, kill.”
But you will say there was danger; there was alarm; and there were instigators to insurrection. The UNITED IRISHMAN gave directions for street-fighting and the construction of barricades; and “treason is openly preached in Dublin,” as Lord John Russell declares. Well, then, it was your duty, if you were a legal governor, and not a butcher, to use the resources of the “law,” if there were law in this land, to punish the instigators of rebellion, and to crush the public preachers of “treason;” but with that ferocious cruelty that ever belongs to a government of fraud and force, you have deliberately relinquished the law-courts, where you would meet the advisers, the originators, the head and front of all this Jacobin “treason,” and chosen the streets and fields, where you can easily provoke or suborn a riot, and then mow down the innocent people with your grape and canister. This might be the thought, not of a butcher, but of a demon.
“Treason,” you say, “is openly preached in Dublin.” Yes – for instance, I preach, from week to week, that saving doctrine which you and Lord John Russell call treason. I have long thought it an unfair and cowardly practice in those who assume to advise the people, or who conduct organs of public opinion, that they have inflamed the multitudes against their rulers by indirect and convert inuendo, keeping themselves in safety all the while, behind some quibble of law. I have reversed that plan: I avow distinctly, every Saturday, what I know the people think and feel, and sign my name to it. I court your ex-officios and your criminal informations, and all the other weapons of your Queen’s Bench warfare. Yet, though the articles of the UNITED IRISHMAN can draw together an army of ten thousand men, they have hitherto failed to provoke a simple information or indictment.
The reason, of course, is, that Ireland is governed, not by “law,” but by the sword; and that you are not a Lord Lieutenant, but a butcher.
And as for those same warlike and treasonable articles in this newspaper, they will be steadily continued and improved upon, week after week, until they have produced their effect, – the effect not of a street riot to disturb a peaceable meeting, but of a deliberate and universal arnament to sweep this island clear of British butchers, and plant the Green Flag on Dublin Castle. The object of them, I may as well inform you (for our Lodge has no secrets from you), is to produce a reaction against those drivelling doctrines of “legality,” and “constitutional agitation,” which were preached for forty years by your late ally, Daniel O’Connell. Ireland, if I can help it, will not much longer endure talk of law, where there is no law but rope and steel – or peace, where there is no peace but the grave, or patience and perseverance, where human beings are daily, hourly, withering and perishing by myriads, for want of food, in the midst of abundance. To make my countrymen despise, and hate, and curse, this vile teaching, and adopt and love the true methods of winning freedom, and practise the same the first favourable opportunity – this is the aim and mission of the UNITED IRISHMAN, and not to raise a street riot on St. Patrick’s Day.
As to the meeting itself, which has caused all your lordship’s campaigning, it will, most assuredly, be held, and has been postponed from Friday to Monday, not on account of your splendid squadrons and frowning batteries, but simply because of the negotiations which were still on foot to secure the union of all true haters of British power for this demonstration in honour of the Sovereign People of France. But whatever may come of those negotiations, the meeting will be held.
We will have another day for the Revolution.
In the mean time, I cannot conclude without testifying my joy that the humbug of a “Constitution” is gone, and that the people of Ireland and their mortal foes at length stand opposite one another, within point-blank range.
Your enemy, as ever,
P.S – I cannot help mentioning that a violent rumour has been current all the week (strengthened considerably by the declarations of your accomplice, Lord John Russell, in the English Parliament), to the effect that your lordship is, after all, going to return to legal courses – to prosecute certain “Jacobins” for sedition – to indict me for “treason,” and to take your chance for getting the juries packed as usual. I do not believe it. I think this rumour was raised by you and your accomplice, to induce me to abscond – just as the rumour of an insurrection was, to give a colour to your preparations for carnage. I will not abscond – I am here at 12, Trinity-street, and intend to remain here.