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“Since the days of Dr. Drennan,” says the writer of a brilliant series of papers furnished to a New York journal, “had not been read in Ireland such noble exhortations as this famous journal put forth. They had all the vigor of Swift, and the point of Berkeley. But there was running through them, and flashing from them, an enthusiasm like that which summoned the young students of Germany to arms, in the Napoleonic war; and which, again, in the upheaving of the nations, in 1848, called forth, in surging crowds, the students of the European schools and universities, from Rome to Berlin, and from Pesth to Paris. It was a divine literature. It was resonant with the sublime intonation of antiquity. It absorbed and poured out again the songs of the Rhine and Alps, but was touchingly modulated with the sorrows of the Irish race; and, in quick vibrations, elicited the mirth, the scorn, the hope, the
vengeance of the Celtic spirit. It was the omnipotent voice of freedom, which speaks in every tone and dialect, and from crowded cities, as from the dreariest solitudes, evokes the responsive chorus.
“Whether we speak of sea or fire, in the exhaustless nature of each, we find a type of that spirit, which in Ireland the foreign foe has for centuries sought to master, but has never tamed and never can annihilate. If it be like the fire, and if it sometimes smoulders, a bold hand flinging in fresh fuel, can light it up anew. If it be like the sea, and if it sometimes sleeps, a passing wind will wake it into anger. This has been the history of Ireland; this the explanation of her mysterious relapses and commotions. This gives us an insight into the perplexing future.
“ Mitchel's writings did not create, but evoked the insurrectionary spirit of the country. The spirit had been there, and there for ever it will abide. But it was smouldering, and he cast it up in flames once more. It was stagnant, and he stirred it from its depths, and lashed it into a storm.
“Like å sky-wonder in a gloomy night
Outshone this man upon the ways of men,
The government was thrown from its centre. The most decisive steps were necessary—such was the success Mitchel's appeals to Ireland had met with. The villainous “TreasonFelony Bill,” or “ Gagging Act," was introduced by Sir George Gray into the British Parliament, notoriously to put Mitchel down. W.J. Fox, M. P., the well-known English Liberal, considered the bill “ an infringement of the liberty of the subject.” If it were passed, he said “No man would be safe in addressing a meeting in times of political excitement.” Of course the United Irishman was immediately brought beneath the lasso of the Gagging Act; and Mitchel was arrested May 13, 1848, and committed to Newgate, on the charges of " felony under the provisions of the new act.” He was brought to trial on the 26th, and at seven o'clock in the evening, a verdict of "guilty" was returned. On the following morning he was sentenced to fourteen years’ banishment. The closing of the scene was deeply exciting. When the sentence had
been pronounced, Mr. Mitchel, in a clear, firm, and manly voice, then spoke as follows, amidst a solemn hush of breathless excitement :
“The law has done its part, and the Queen of England, her crown, and government in Ireland, are now secure, pursuant to act of Parliament. I have done my part also. Three months ago, I promised Lord Clarendon and his government, in this country, that I would provoke, him into his courts of justice, as places of this kind are called, and that I would force him publicly and notoriously to pack a jury against me to convict me, or else that I would walk a freeman out of this court, and provoke him to a contest in another field. My lord, I knew I was setting my life on that cast; but I knew that in either event the victory should be with me, and it is with me. Neither the jury, nor the judges, nor any other man in this court, presumes to imagine that it is a criminal who stands in this dock. (Murmurs of applause which the police endeavored to suppress.) I have shown what the law is made of in Ireland; I have shown that her Majesty's
I government sustains itself in Ireland by packed juries, by partisan judges, by perjured sheriffs.”
BARON LEFROY.—“The court cannot sit here to hear you arraign the jurors of the country, the sheriffs, or the country, the administration of justice, the tenure by which the Crown of England holds this country. We cannot sit here to suffer you to proceed thus, because the trial is over. Everything you had to say previous to the judgment, the court was ready to hear, and did hear. We cannot suffer you to stand at the bar to repeat, I must say, very nearly a repetition of the offence for which you have been sentenced.”
MR. MITCHEL.—“I will not say any more of that kind ; but I
BARON LEFROY.—“Anything you wish to say we will hear; but I trust you will keep yourself within the limits which your own judgment must suggest to you."
MR. MITCHEL.—“I have acted all through this business from the first, under a strong sense of duty. I do not repent anything I have done, and I believe the cause which I have opened is only commenced. The Roman who saw his hand burning to ashes before the tyrant, promised that three hundred should follow out his enterprise. Can I not promise for one, for two, for three ?"
As Mr. Mitchel pronounced the words one, two and three, he pointed to the friends behind him. The men thus solemnly indicated were Messrs. Meagher, Reilly, and O'Gorman. He then raised his eye with a proud glance, and recognising others in all parts of the court, he added with eagerness, "aye, for hundreds."
Several voices in the vicinage of the dock simultaneously, and with deep solemnity, cried " thousands," "and promise for me.” The words were taken up all through the court, and for some minutes the building resounded with for "and for me, Mitchel," "and for me, too."
Scarcely were the echoes in the court-room silent before Mitchel, carried off in chains, with a strong force of cavalry, was put on board an attendant steamer, and bound for his destination. He was taken to Spike Island, in the Cove of Cork, afterwards to Bermuda, where he spent a year of "suspense, agony, and meditation.” After a five months voyage, he was next at the Cape of Good Hope, for five months, in a close, unclean and unhealthy cavity under the poop of the
CRAYON SKETCHES, AND OFF-HAND TAKINGS.
Neptune,” when the Home Government ordered him-fearing he should instigate, even by his presence, the excited men of the Cape to rebellion—to Van Diemen's Land. With the assistance of Mr. P. J. Smytb, sent from America, by the friends of Mitchel, the Irish Revolutionist effected his escape in the middle of last year, and landed in San Francisco towards the close of October, where he met with the most rapturous reception. He immediately proceeded to New York, and has taken up his residence in the city of Brooklyn, L. I., with his family and friends around him.
I am indebted to one of Mr. Mitchel's personal friends for the above graphic and beautiful sketch. It must have been written before the gifted patriot sacrificed himself on the altar of American slavery. John Mitchel, in Ireland, was a republican, a hero, and a patriot. Had he died there, or in the land of his banishment, he would have been honored as a martyr to liberty; but he unfortunately came to America, and, in a fit of passion, wrote an infamous paragraph, which went like a dagger into the very heart of freedom. Being too proud or too obstinate to retract, the indignation of the people of this country came down upon him like an avalanche. I cannot allow the above to appear in the pages
of without uttering a protest against his views of American slavery.