Meeting of the Grattan Club - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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a stammer or a check, none falls on you. You would have fought, had we not seized your hands, and bound them.

"Let no foul tongue, then, spit its sarcasm upon the people. They were ready for the sacrifice; and, had the word been given, the stars would burn this night above a thousand crimsoned graves. The guilt is ours; let the sarcasms fall upon our heads.

"We told you in the clubs, four days previous to the trial, the reasons that compelled us to oppose the project of a rescue. The concentration of 10,000 troops upon the city—the incomplete organization of the people—the insufficiency of food, in case of a sustained resistance—the uncertainty as to how far the country districts were prepared to support us; these were the chief reasons that forced us into an antagonism with your generosity, your devotion, your intrepidity. Night after night we visited the clubs, to know your sentiments, your determination; and to the course we instructed you to adopt, you gave, at length, a reluctant sanction.

"Now, I do not think it would be candid in me to conceal the fact, that the day subsequent to the arrest of John Mitchel, I gave expression to sentiments having a tendency quite opposite to the advice I have mentioned. At a meeting of the 'Grattan Club,' I said that the Confederation ought to come to the resolution to resist by force the transportation of John Mitchel; and, if the worst befel us, the ship that carried him away should sail upon a sea of blood. I said this, and I shall not now conceal it. I said this, and I shall not shrink from the reproach of having acted otherwise. Upon consideration, I became convinced they were sentiments which, if acted upon, would associate my name with the ruin of the cause. I felt it my duty, therefore, to retract them—not to disown, but to condemn them; not to shrink from the responsibility which the avowal of them might entail, but to avert the disaster which the enforcement of them would ensure.

"You have now heard all I have to say on that point; and with a conscience happy in the thought that it has concealed nothing, I shall exultingly look forward to an event—the shadow of which already encompasses us—for the vindication of my conduct, and the attestation of my truth. Call me coward—call me renegade; I will accept these titles as the penalties which a fidelity to my convictions has imposed. It will be so for a short time only. To the end I see the path I have been ordained to walk; and upon the grave which closes in that path, I can read no coward's epitaph."

The enemy were themselves somewhat surprised at the ease with which they had borne me out of the heart of Dublin, at noonday, in chains; and evidently thought they would have but small trouble in crushing any attempts at insurrection afterwards. The Confederates waited until "the time" should come; and some of them, indeed, were fully resolved to make an insurrection in the harvest: yet, as might have been expected, "the time" never came. The individual desperation of Dillon, Meagher, O'Gorman, Leyne, Reilly, could achieve nothing while the people were dispirited both by famine and by long submission to insolent ...continue reading »

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