Thomas Davis and Daniel O'Connell - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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impulsive characters. But he was no mere revolutionist. In the antiquarian re-unions at the Academy, none was heard with more respect; in the gay drawing-rooms of Dublin, none was a more welcome guest. He laughed seldom, but heartily. He had not time to marry; but he loved passionately, as such men must; and over his early grave a fair woman shed bitter tears.

How felt O'Connell? Davis had been much in his way; and O'Connell was somewhat of a despot. Davis had been independent of him and his opinions while he gave impetus to his movement; and O'Connell saw no use in independence, and abhorred impetus, unless when he could bridle it himself. "Young Ireland" had been a thorn in his side, had applied fire to his back, and singed his beard. Yet, withal, the heart of Daniel O'Connell was large and loving: Davis had ever treated him with the most reverential respect; and he, on his side, could not but do homage to the imperial genius, nor fail to be won by such a gallant and gentle nature. He was, that month of September, at his house of Derrynane Abbey, far in the wilds of Kerry, among the cliffs of the Atlantic coast, trying to freshen his worn life in the vital air of his mountains, and persuading himself that he could still, when the fox broke cover, listen to the ringing music of his hounds with a hunter's joy. But the massive and iron frame was bent; the bright blue eyes had grown dim; and on that over-wearied brain lay the shadow of death. And his heart was heavy, for, surely, the phantom of "Repeal" haunted him among the mountains; and to his inner ear pierced a cry that the ocean roar could not drown,—the passionate cry of his nine million People,—Where is our Freedom?

One morning comes news of the death of Davis—and the old man is shaken by a sudden tempest of wildest grief. Well might he cry out, " Would God that I had died for thee, my son!" From Derrynane his habit was to send a long weekly letter, to be read at the meeting of the Association. This week his letter was very short—nothing but a burst of lamentation:—

"As I stand alone in the solitude of my mountains, many a tear shall I shed in memory of the noble youth. Oh! how vain are words or tears when such a national calamity afflicts the country!

"Put me down among the foremost contributors to whatever monument or tribute to his memory may be voted by the national Association. Never did they perform a more imperative, or, alas! so sad a duty.

"I can write no more—my tears blind me—and—after all, 'Fungar inani munere.'" ...continue reading »

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