Ireland Old News

The Times
London, Middlesex, England

October 25, 1869



The refusal of the amnesty demanded for the Fenian prisoners has not produced the sensation which might have been expected from such an event. There is but one opinion among all the loyal and well-disposed classes, no matter what their politics–that no other course was left open to the Government, and that the time had come when such a declaration was absolutely required in order to check a mischievous agitation. It is hard to believe that the "heartless spouters" were sincere in their professions of sympathy for the captives, or that the demonstrations which have been made in different parts of the country had any other object in view than to recruit and marshal the forces of "National" disaffection. There was a large amount of popular feeling engaged, but other motives operated than a genuine desire to open the prison doors. Some joined in or witnessed the processions as a pastime, others were ready enough to display their hostility to the British Government, and found in the punishment of the prisoners a convenient grievance to stir up the passions of the ignorant masses. If the populace really expected that the Ministry would yield to their clamour and menaces it was time to disabuse their minds of such a notion. No pains had been spared by some of the "National" organs to impress them with a belief that English policy is dictated, not by a sense of justice or generosity, but by cupidity and fear. The noisy and turbulent agitators who call themselves the Irish people proclaim in effect, if not in actual terms, that whatever they agree to insist upon having must be conceded. Loyal and peaceful citizens of all shades of political opinion would rejoice at the liberation of the prisoners if they believed that it would conduce to the peace and contentment of the country, but they cannot help feeling that such an act of unmerited clemency would be highly impolitic at a time when the sympathizers glory in the acts of the prisoners, and the Fenians, so far from showing any signs of penitence, are collecting arms and resuming the drill exercise–at least, in the south. Under such circumstances the reply of Mr. Gladstone has given satisfaction to all who have an interest in the maintenance of tranquillity and order. It is not regarded as a positive and final refusal, but rather as an intimation that it will depend upon the conduct of the prisoners' friends whether the Government shall feel it consistent with its duty to the country to indulge a generous disposition, which may be traced even in the severest phrases of the Premier's letter. The Liberal press adopts this view, and regards the reply as called for by the tone of the agitation.

The Evening Post observes that–

"Not only are there the semblances, however unintentional, of intimidation, but it was liable to be understood as indicating the prevalence of those very sentiments among the people for having sought to give effect to which in action the prisoners were at the very moment under restraint. Speakers were heard to adopt, amid applause, the sentiments of the men . . . and to leave an impression upon the mind of England that the discharge of the prisoners would be the starting-point for the recommencement of their career. The temporary miscarriage of the amnesty movement is due to a profound misconception or an entire indifference to the difficulties which beset the newly inaugurated policy towards Ireland whose application has been committed to Mr. Gladstone by the liberal opinion of the Empire."

The Northern Whig expresses approval of the bold and determined course adopted by the Premier, and, referring to the closing passage of the letter, in which loyal men are appealed to by Mr. Gladstone to leave the question in the hands of the Government, the Whig observes:--

"This earnest appeal will not be made in vain. It is a libel on the great body of the Irish people to say that they are ungrateful. Mr. Gladstone asks them to have confidence in him, who, of all British statesmen, has deserved that confidence. He refuses to allow himself and his Government to be placed in a false position by such men as Mr. George Henry Moore and his admiring disciples, with their burlesque patriotism, their schoolboy declamation, their arrogance, vanity, and folly. Such persons are not to be reasoned with; they are simply to be defied and despised. Had the Prime Minister yielded to their demands and to their threats he would have virtually given up the government to those people whom all sensible and really patriotic Irishmen refuse to recognize as political leaders or to have anything to do with at all. It will be seen now what steps the Amnesty Committee in Dublin will take. A man of real ability like Mr. Butt will, we trust, show his moderation and good sense. He must know that Mr. Gladstone's letter is decisive. Those who now try to put popular ‘pressure' on the Government will be its avowed enemies. We shall know them for what they really are. In taking any rash and defiant course, they will be not less the enemies of the Fenian prisoners."

The Cork Reporter, which has steadfastly opposed the "National" party and condemned the language used by their organs and public speakers, says:--

"If Mr. Gladstone had made up his mind to pardon the Fenian prisoners in the teeth of the tone taken by his own supporters in England during the past month he might as well have at once handed in to Her Majesty his resignation of his high office . . . The sole persons at whose door lies the entire responsibility for the continued incarceration of the political prisoners are the Irish Nationalists. We say it with no intention of offence, but we say at the same time, with all deliberation, that for every hour of additional imprisonment, for every weary sigh, for every disappointed hope of the unhappy man in Portland, Woking, and Chatham, the extreme Nationalist party in Ireland is responsible before God and man."

The Cork Examiner holds out hopes to the prisoners, and suggests an opportune time for liberating them. It relies upon the portion of the letter which requests that the case of the prisoners should be left in the hands of the Government, and "cannot imagine any more generous and noble preparation for the visit of the queen to this portion of her dominions than a general and unrestricted amnesty–a generous oblivion of the past."

The Conservative journals give short praise to the Ministry, and turn the refusal of an amnesty into capital to be used for party purposes, taunting the Government with having excited popular expectation which it failed to fulfil, and with adopting a "revolutionary policy" calculated to encourage disaffection in the multitude. The "National" journals denounce Mr. Gladstone and mutter threats of vengeance, but their tone is more subdued than might have been expected.

The Irishman charges the Premier with having violated his promise to "abandon for ever the policy of conquest," and makes the following comments:--

"We asked for the restoration of the victims as a sign of the abandonment of the policy to which they were sacrificed. We accepted Mr. Gladstone's justification of their conduct. In thousands and tens of thousands, in every end of the land, on hill and plain, in city and in town, we met together and repeated his justification. We defended their rebellion as he had defended i t; we denounced its cause as he had denounced it, and, receiving their verdict of acquittal from his hands, we demanded their release from the unjust incarceration to which they had been condemned. We demanded it of him, the Prime Minister, who had defended their career; we asked it of him who had written and spoken their justification, who had acknowledged his indebtedness to them as the authors of the act of legislation on which he builds his chance of fame. We demanded from him an atonement for the crime which he acknowledged his nation had committed against the Irish race, and some gratitude for the act of statesmanship. That was the issue. What is the answer? That, true to the policy of English dominion here, the ‘policy of conquest' has been only abandoned to give place to a Reign of Terror. That is the declaration which, as First Minister of the English Crown, Mr. Gladstone makes. The grounds on which he makes it are the excuses of the hypocrite, the palliation of all tyranny. They are palpable, unblushing lies."

In sullen rage it declares in another article that–

"Until that demand of the nation is answered no further demand shall be presented. The dignity of Ireland compels silence. If refusal meet our demand the question of moral force is settled finally, and no man will dare to insult the people by asking them to put any faith in English justice or English Parliaments. Justice or vengeance, as England decides; Ireland will accept the issue. Much as Ireland loves and honours the political prisoners, not even their lives would be allowed for a moment to stand between the nation and liberty. In the prison cells these men are more useful to Ireland than they could be if free, because their heroism and suffering are the gospel of nationality; before their devotion and self-sacrifice the tongue of slander is silent, the wor__ling is moved, and the patriot exalted . . . . We seek not war, but justice. In answer to English threats, Ireland answers, that ‘if England desire civil war she shall have it' but she must wait. She shall not have a massacre of an unarmed people; this, perhaps, is what the Pall-Mall Bully desires, but Ireland cannot afford to gratify him. As long as England dealt with an unarmed fraction of the people, under the banner of Young Ireland or of Fenianism, she was secure, because enthusiasm usurped the place of reason, and barricades were built of words. Another era has dawned, and we stand before the world–a nation. Sacrifices untold were necessary to drown the feuds of ages, and, even in our day, three men died that this nation might live. Over their graves the world beheld a nation bent in tears, but not the tears of slaves. The scaffold of the victims became the alter of the nation, and the holocaust was not offered in vain. If England be unwise enough to desire the renewal of the scenes of ‘98 she will miss many of the accessories. Catholic and Protestant have long forgotten the rancorous hostility which made them seek each other's blood. The Catholic is no longer an ignorant slave, nor the Protestant an intolerant master. Time and expediency have swept away the last faint trace of ascendency, and the mingled tides of Orange and Green float down peacefully to the sea of nationhood. True, something yet remains to be done. But a little while, and a perfect fusion will have been accomplished . . . . England has left us little to lose by civil war, save [?]mud cabius[?] and growing crops. A little labour and a genial sun would soon repair our losses, but more than sunshine would be necessary to restore London and Manchester. Ireland seeks not war, but justice. If England prefer war, the choice is her own."

This article is judiciously followed by a republication of an essay by Mr. KICKAM on the "Use of Arms." It is very earnest and practical. There are also articles appealing to the Protestant spirit of resentment on account of the Disestablishment of the Church, and recommending a strictly logical application of the doctrine of "felonious" landlordism by contending for the right to resist by force the intrusion of landlord "felons" into the tenant's property, and to shoot them in self-defence, just as the gentleman in Cork did his Fenian visitor some months ago. The argument is put in syllogistic form, with all the cold-blooded precision of an academic exercise.

The People of Ireland writes in a similar spirit, and recommends the formation of a "Tenants' Protection Society," with local committees throughout the country, who will investigate cases of tyranny, defend ejectment cases, and hold up oppressive landlords to public odium. What the effect of this would be we are at no loss to conjecture.

The scene of agrarian crime appears to have been recently shifted to the West. The following is the latest report from the county of Leitrim, where "Molly Maguire" has resumed her murderous work. A correspondent of the Express states that Mr. William O'BRIEN, who resided in the westward of CAVAN, between Mohill and Drumsna[?], was found brutally murdered on Friday morning in a ditch within 40 perches of his own house, it is supposed from a gunshot wound in his neck; but the head presented such a mangled and shapeless mass that no distinct wound could be traced, and it is nearly impossible to say whether he was fired at or not. He gives the following particulars:--

"His chin was knocked away by a blow, and no feature of his face is traceable; but the head appears as one mangled mass, and the chest was smashed in, seemingly by a kick. His body was found in a ditch covered with briars, where it seems to have been thrown by his murderers. The deceased gentleman had been in Mohill on Wednesday evening, and a friend walked a short way out of town with him, after leaving whom, it is supposed, he was met by his murderers. It is probably, from the appearance of the ground and from the place where it seems the murder was committed, which is fully ten perches from the road, and not in the direction of his own house, that the deceased was set on by four or five persons–as he was a strong, resolute man–gagged, and carried to the place. The stones with which his head was pounded were carried from the road ditch. A broken piston, loaded to the muzzle, was found at the place. Mr. O'BRIEN had been missing from his home since Wednesday night, and so well was the body concealed that, though upwards of 20 policemen were searching for him since 3 or 4 o'clock on Thursday evening, it was not found, and probably would not be now, only his own dog was heard howling in the brake, and was found lying on the mangled body of his master. Mr. O'BRIEN was agent for Mr. C. O'BRIEN, county of Sligo, and had got ejectments against two or three families at the Quarter Sessions of Ballinamore, now just ended. This is said to be the cause of his sad fate. Generally he was very much liked by all. Nine persons are at present in custody, and the county inspector of constabulary has been on the spot a good part of the day."

The land question has been discussed during the week at several Poor Law Boards, and resolutions passed in most of them calling for a settlement of the question.

The Chief Secretary and Lady WALDEGRAVE paid a visit yesterday to the National, Model, and other Schools in Marlborough-street, and spent two hours hearing the pupils examined. Mr. FORTESCUE expressed himself gratified at the result of the examinations. It was satisfactory to observe that, notwithstanding the recent pastoral issued by Cardinal Cullen calling upon parents to withdraw their children on pain of being deprived of the rites of the Church, there were 1,500 pupils present out of a total of 1.900 on the roll.

There has been a correspondence between Mr. LESLIE, M.P., Lieutenant of the county of Monaghan, and Captain MADDEN and a number of other magistrates, who requested him to convene a meeting to protest against the action of the Government in superseding Captain COOTE, the late High Sheriff. Mr. LESLIE declined to do so on the ground that the Lieutenant of a country is not the proper person to convene a meeting for such a purpose. At the same time he expresses his opinion that the dismissal of Captain COOTE was arbitrary and unfair. Captain MADDEN, in reply, disputes this view of the Lieutenant's office, and refers to an observation made by the Attortney-General at Galway, that if the ruling at Monaghan were to be revised he did not think it would meet with approval.

At Sligo, on Thursday, Mr. R. PEHTON, Clerk of the Peace, was examined. He stated that he was private solicitor to Colonel TENNYSON when he started for the borough in 1860. Colonel TENNYSON, he believed, resigned because a demand was made upon him for money. An arrangement was proposed by which Mr. SOMERS should retire in Colonel TENNYSON's favour. Witness brought down 500 sovereigns to be given to SOMERS, as the first instalment of 1,000 l. which he was to receive to induce him to retire. Witness advised his client not to give the money, as he felt sure that it would be only the first of many thousands that would be demanded. He believed that bribery commenced with Colonel TOWNLEY, who came to Sligo as a wealthy Englishman and without local influence. Mr. P. M'NIFFE, solicitor, was examined. He said he was not professionally engaged at the last election, having refused an engagement in order that he might give his vote to Captain Flanagan. During the revision he had served objections on a large number of Conservative claimants, but there was no "of" in the form which he used, and he unfortunately omitted to put his place of abode, and the omission was held to be fatal. He was accused on that account of having sold his own party for 1,000 l., which it was alleged he had received from Major Knox. Witness energetically and indignantly denied this. On account of the suspicion thus engendered he was himself an object of suspicion to the mob. Mr. Henry L. BARNARDO deposed that he had met Mr. SLOAN, and previous witness, recently in Dublin, and had told him that he had seen Captain Ethelred KNOX (whose presence is so much wanted at the Commission) in London. Mr. Michael MOLONY, the solicitor who conducted the petition against Major KNOX, deposed that he, in common with others, having heard that poor voters were likely to be spirited away at the time of the election, advised the employment of watchers. He paid a number of non-electors for this service. He was in the Bishop's drawing-room when "the cave" of ten came to demand 1,000 l. as the price of their support of Captain FLANAGAN. The Bishop was very anxious about the election, as he had induced Captain FLANAGAN to stand, believing that the Reform Bill would give a large majority to the Liberals in the borough; but at the close of the revision it was discovered that the Catholic voters were in a minority of one. A telegram received to-day states that the Commission has been adjourned until the 20th of December for the attendance of Captain Ethelred KNOX and Messrs. GRUBB and BRENNAN.

At Cashel, yesterday, Archbishop LEAHY was examined, but his evidence was unimportant.

Submitted by: County Cavan Newspaper Transcription Project

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