Government Policy in 1848 - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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while O'Brien, Meagher, and myself had been politely visited by a magistrate, and blandly requested to come and give bail. The policy of the "Government" at this time I would characterize,—if I had not set out with the determination of narrating facts only, and using no abusive epithets,—as mean beyond all description. Police magistrates were ordered to arrest parties of young men practising at targets in the neighbourhood of country towns, and march them into custody through the streets. Men in Dublin were seized upon and dragged to gaol on the charge of saying "halt" to the club-men marching to a public meeting;—it was "training in military evolutions" under the Act;—and one young man was actually brought to trial and transported for seven years, on an indictment charging him, for that he had, in a private room in Dublin (not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved by the instigation of the devil), said to thirteen other young men, then and there ranged in line, these fatal words, "Right shoulders forward,"—contrary to the peace of our lady the Queen; and so forth.

On the 4th of May, at Thurles Quarter Sessions, in Tipperary, one Michael Gilfoyle was tried before the county judge (appointed by the Crown, of course), for having a pike in his possession, contrary to an Act just passed prohibiting such articles. The "pike" was produced: it was a hay-fork with two prongs, such as is generally used in Ireland, but rather longer, stronger, and sharper in the prongs, than the police thought it prudent to let men turn hay withal. In fact, it was made upon a plan recommended by the United Irishman, as an improved kind of fork for saving the crop,—inasmuch as it would turn over, not only a truss of hay, but a policeman, bailiff, or dragoon. Mr Howley, the county judge, in passing sentence of one year's imprisonment for this offence, took occasion to remark that the instrument was manifestly not intended for agricultural operations, but for civil war, and " was originated by the wicked advices of the United Irishman." He further expressed a hope that, when the finding of his Thurles jury (that a fork is a pike), should come to the ears of the writers in that incendiary publication, " perhaps it would have the effect of checking their insane career." In short, it was absolutely necessary to crush the incendiary publication, and that without delay.

The day arrived for striking the special juries for my two trials, on the charge of sedition; and I attended in the Crown office with my counsel. The Sheriff's clerk brought in the box purporting to contain cards having the names of all the special jurors of the city of Dublin; from which forty-eight names were ...continue reading »

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