The Labours of Thomas Davis - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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Wallis, "there is enough to make men love him, and guess at him—and what more can the best of readers do with the supremest writer, though he lived to the age of Sophocles or Goethe. The true loss is of the oak's timber, not of its own acorns or of the flowers at its base. The loss of its immediate influence on the events of his time, and on the souls of his contemporaries, by guidance and example: that is the true bereavement; one which possibly many generations to come will be suffering from and expiating, consciously or unconsciously."

Davis is not an Irish name, but Welsh; and in fact his father was a Welsh gentleman who had settled in Cork county, where, at Mallow, on the banks of the Blackwater, Thomas Davis was born. He always boasted that he was of the Celtic race of the Cymry; he would rather have been a Cherokee than English; his nom-de-plume was ever "The Celt;" and his best loved study from boyhood had been the language and literature, the traditions and antiquities, of the two branches of the great Western European family, the Gael and the Cymry. Though by profession a barrister, Davis had been a mere silent student till his twenty-fifth year; and his studies had ranged from poetry to statistics, and back again. Of history, in several languages, he was a voracious reader. He had thoroughly mastered the economic and political questions involved in the connexion of Ireland with England; and thought it shame and sin (which, indeed, it was and is), that our old island should be devoured by strangers; that the people of the ancient clans, who had once taught half the schools and won half the battles in Europe, should send tribute of corn and cattle; nay, (as Athens did of old to Crete), tribute of her choicest youth also, of her genius and her energy, to swell the pride and power of an inferior race. He longed to see Ireland standing on her own feet, using her own resources for her own behoof, living her own genial life, with her own flag floating above her—a free and sovereign State among the nations of Europe. And he knew that all this might be achieved, if only the hereditary religious feuds of ages could be healed; and by inculcation of mutual tolerance and respect, by kindling a common love for our own land, by education, by the promotion of Irish art, and re-awakening of Irish military spirit, he hoped to effect it all. It gave him intense pleasure when the Dublin Evening Mail, the greatest organ of Irish Orangeism, came out (for example) with such hints as this:—

If a British Union cannot be formed, perhaps an Irish one might. ...continue reading »

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