Category Archives: People

Sir Charles Gavan Duffy

Charles Gavan Duffy, the son of a shopkeeper was born in Monaghan on 12th April 1816. His mother was Annie Gavan.

Duffy had experience working as a journalist on the Morning Register in Dublin and in Belfast where he edited and afterwards owned the Belfast Vindicator.

He wrote prose and verse for the ‘Nation’ as well as being the editor. His articles mainly dealt with current affairs, and he wrote under the pseudonyms of “The Black Northern”; “Ben Heder”; “The O’Donnell” and his initials.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee who worked under Duffy in the Nation described him thus when he first met him in 1845:
“He struck me as of a dyspeptic constitution and his middle size deceived me – we always expect a great man to stand six feet high. His manner was frank, short and decided, like that of a general after a campaign has begun. He was always in action, planning, suggesting, negotiating. He carried into this party his firmness, rankness and energy and animated them with his own scrupulous love of truth and invariable disinterestedness. I could not help remembering, when I compared the strength of his mind with the weakness of his body that Owen Roe O’Neill and Grattan, our greatest general and our first orator, were invalids……..”
“His mind was fruitful in expedients, stored with examples, poetic in its tone, practical in its operation, comprehensive in its judgements, critical in its determination . He was brave yet gentle, firm though full of feeling, a soldier in resolve, a woman in affection.”

The Nation: 15th October 1842
Extracts from Duffys leading article in the first publication

“With all the nicknames that serve to delude and divide us – with all their Orangemen and Ribbonmen, Torymen and Whigmen, Ultras and Moderados, and Heaven knows what rubbish besides – there are in truth, but two parties in Ireland – those who suffer through her national degradation and those who profit by it. To a country like ours, all other nations are unimportant.”

“That is the first article of our political creed, and we desire to be known for what we are, we make it our earliest task to announce the object of the writers of this journal is to organise the greater and the better of these parties and to strive with all our soul, and all our strength, for the diffusion and establishment of these principles. This will be the beginning, the middle and the end of our labours….”

“But the first duty of men who desire to foster Nationality is to teach the people not only the elevating influence, but the intrinsic advantage of the principle of the thin. You cannot kindle a fire with damp faggots; and every man in the country who has not an interest in the existing system ought to show, as clearly as an abstract truth can be demonstrated, that national feelings, national habits and national government are indispensable to individual prosperity. This will be our task, and we venture to think that we will perform it indifferently well.”

“But no national feelings can co-exist with the mean and mendicant spirit which estimates everything English greater and better than if it belonged to our own country, and which looks at the rest of the world through the spectacles of Anglican prejudice. There can be no doubt at all that the chief source of the contempt with which we are treated by England is our own sycophancy. We abandoned our self-respect and were treated with contempt; nothing could be more natural – nothing in fact, could be more just. But we must open our eyes and look our domineering neighbour in the face – we must inspect him and endeavour to discover what kind of a fellow he is. We must learn to think sensibly and candidly about him; and we do not doubt that The Nation will tend materially to this end.”

“Many a student pent among books has his mind full of benevolent and useful thoughts for his country, which the habits of the students life would prevent him from ever pouring out in this hot arena of politics. Such men will find a fitting vehicle in the Nation; and our kindred love of letters will often induce them to turn with us from the study of mankind in politics. Such a legion will be more formidable than ‘a thousand men clad in steel’ each of them may fairly represent the multitude whom his intellect can set in motion; and the weapons which they will lay on to the roots of corruption will not be less keen, or trenchant, because they may cover them with the flowers of literature.”

Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, My Life in Two Hemispheres, Vol. II

North & South Unite?

At the beginning of 1850 Lucas at length transferred the ‘Tablet’ to Dublin. At that time the local Tenant Societies, founded by the Callan curates, were spreading over Munster, and a Tenant Protection Society had existed for four years in the North under the auspices of Sharman Crawford, with my old friend Dr. M’Knight for secretary. A Land Bill had been recently proposed by the Whig Government menacing the existence of Ulster tenant-right, which created exasperation throughout the province, and indeed throughout the island. Here was a grievance common to North and South, but North and South had not acted together on any question for more than half a century, and the union of Catholic priests and Presbyterian ministers seemed the most hopeless of improbabilities.

In this crisis I came to an understanding with Lucas to summon if possible a National Conference. on the Land Question which would bring together all the discontented parties. It was now that my intimacy with Dr. M’Knight in Belfast came into play. I invited him frankly to join the movement, and to get the principal men in his society to act with him. On his return from London, on a bootless deputation to the Government, he became my guest for a time. We had anxious consultations, and came to an understanding which produced memorable results. He signed the requisition for the proposed conference, and promised to bring to it a solid body of the Presbyterian clergy.

When their attendance was announced in the newspapers the promise was smiled at by experienced politicians. But when the conference projected for June had to be postponed until August, to enable Presbyterian ministers otherwise engaged with the General Assembly of their Church to be present, a livelier interest began to prevail.

Tenant’s Charter

This interval was not wasted. The men who projected the conference employed it in preparing the necessary agenda, and the Press was busy debating the principles on which the Land Question ought to be settled, and the method by which these principles could best be established. Plans and projects were nearly as plentiful as in Paris between the summons and the assembly of the Tiers Etat in ’89, I took occasion to specify the policy of the Nation in the premisses, all the more because the claim of the tenants for complete justice had been first formulated by the Nation eight years earlier. There ought to be a plan, I contended, so just and adequate that it could be accepted by North and South, and might become the Tenants’ Charter. It must provide, once for all, perpetuity of tenure.

“Over three-fourths of Europe (I said) the tenant is as immovable as the landlord, where landlords are not altogether unknown. From the British Channel to the Sea of Azof the tiller of the soil sits firm. Even under the British flag in Guernsey and the Channel Islands no one can divorce him from the land. This fixed tenure turned the rocks of Switzerland and the harsh sands of Belgium into cornfields. It would turn the spectral graveyard of Skibbereen into the cheerful and prosperous home of men. It is the custom of the civilised world on both sides of the equator. Here, then, the Irish tenant is entitled to take his stand.”

The second essential point in a tenants’ charter was a just rent. To fix a just rent it was necessary that the land should be valued; The proposal had been scoffed at as something new and monstrous, but this was a mistake; it was neither new nor monstrous.

“Every estate, and every farm upon it, is valued by order of the proprietor to ascertain the rent it can pay. The demand of the tenant is only that this process shall be fairly performed; that such valuation, instead of being private or partial, shall be an official one, made upon established priniciples and by competent persons. The County Cess and the Poor Rate, levied by the direct authority of the State, cannot be assessed arbitrarily, like rent just now, so much on this man and so much on that. The law provides that there shall be a careful valuation of the land beforehand, and that the rate assessed shall correspond with the value. The tenant only asks to put upon the private landlord (insatiable in thepursuit of his own interest) that restraint which the State puts upon itself “( Nation, May 11, 1850)

To obtain the recognition of these rights it was necessary to have a popular organisation and a Parliamentary Party representing it. An organisation which could appoint and cashier members of Parliament would become more formidable in the House of Commons than if its principles were specifically approved of in the Decalogue.

The time was come when a settlement must be made if the Irish race was not to be extirpated, and I warned landlords that if they would not accept a fair rent they might evoke a spirit which would strike against rent altogether till a settlement was accomplished.

That we might be ready for our work a small committee of the best men connected with the movement was formed to prepare the business. By constant consultations, extensive correspondence; and the practice of printing and distributing the agenda among leading men, they laid the basis of unanimity. In the three or four months between the issue of the invitations and the assembly of the conference they were as assiduous as the Ministers of a great State awaiting a new Parliament, and it was during that time that the seed of all future success was sown.

I have described the Tenant League elsewhere.( “League of North and South” London: Chapman and Hall.)

The Convention

There were nearly three hundred delegates in attendance, mostly representative men, carrying the proxies of a district. There were Presbyterian ministers, afterwards to be Moderators of Synods or professors in colleges; farmers who had manned the local societies, and some of whom were to ripen into members of Parliament; priests, destined to be archdeacons and bishops; and nearly a dozen professional men, who afterwards entered the House of Commons or were legislators in some of the great colonies. I have seen deliberative assemblies in free countries from the Thames to the Arno, and from the German to the Pacific Ocean, but I am persuaded that the picked men of the Tenants’ Conference would match any of them in practical ability and debating power.

Sharman Crawford, who would naturally have presided, was detained in Parliament, and his place was filled by Dr. M’Knight. The secretaries were father Tom O’Shea, Rev. William Dobbin, P.M., and William Girdwood, an Ulster attorney: Reserved, stern Covenanters from the North, ministers and their elders for the most part, with a group of brighter recruits of a new generation, who came afterwards to be known as Young Ulster, sat beside priests who had lived through the horrors of a famine which left their churches empty and their graveyards overflowing; flanked by farmers who survived that evil time like the veterans of a hard campaign; while citizens, professional men, the popular journalists from the four provinces, and the founders and officers of the Tenant Protection Societies completed the assembly.

Day by day capable and energetic Presbyterian ministers worked side by side with Catholic priests of the same calibre in perfect harmony and good faith. When difference of opinion, which is inevitable amongst honest and intelligent men, arose, it was never a difference between North and South. The debates were free and full, but invariably courteous. There was no attempt to stifle dissent, a weak device very common in Irish councils; and the result was a definite plan framed on principles which have since been recognised as just, and which, after long resistance and delay, have all got established by law.

Rents, it was declared, must be fixed by valuation of the land, and the power of raising them at will or recovering a higher rent than the one so established taken away from landlords.

The tenant must have a fixed tenure, and not be liable to disturbance so long as he paid the rent settled by the proposed valuation. If he chose to quit, or if he could not pay his rent, he must have the right to the market value of his tenancy.

One principle which has since been recognised by law, but evaded in practice, is worthy of being set out in the ipsissima verba of the Conference.

Nothing shall be included in the valuation, or be paid under the valuation, to the landlord on account of improvements made by the tenant in possession, or those under whom he claims unless these have been paid for by the landlord in reduced rent or in some other way.

These principles have since blazed like beacon fires in Ireland, sometimes obscured and apparently extinguished, but only to revive again. Sir Robert Peel thought it his duty when he passed the Catholic Emancipation Act to recognise that it was not to him, but to O’Connell in Ireland, and to Whig statesmen in England, that the success of the cause was due; and when he repealed the Corn Laws he attribute to the labours of the Anti-Corn Law League and the unadorned eloquence of Richard Cobden the triumph of which he was the agent, but I do not remember that either Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Parnell, or Mr. Davitt has thought it necessary to acknowledge where the principles of the Land Act of 1881 were first successfully formulated and made articles of popular belief.

The Tenant League

The Conference closed its labours by establishing the Tenant League at a public meeting at which Catholic priests and Presbyterian ministers succeeded each other in the tribune in support of each resolution, A Council was appointed fairly representing the entire country, and it was agreed to raise a fund of ten thousand pounds, for the purposes of the movement, by assessing the counties in proportion to their capacity. We asked for money that many things might be attempted which, without money, were impossible – deputations, tracts, and contested elections being the most familiar. Meetings of the Council were ordered to be held successively in different parts of the country, each to be followed by a county meeting, which should be invited to adopt the principles of the League.

The feeling of the country at these proceedings was divided between satisfaction at the cordial union of the provinces and alarm. at the startling programme. But satisfaction greatly predominated. The journals friendly to tenant-right were jubilant. ‘The Fermanagh Mail’, a strictly Protestant journal, circulating in one of the most Orange districts in the North, broke into poetic prose, which represented characteristically the delirium of the hour :—
“It was a grand, an ennobling sight to see the children of the Covenant from the far North, the Elizabethan settlers from the Ards of Ulster, the Cromwellians of the centre, the Normans of the Pale, the Milesians of Connaught, the Danes of Kerry, the sons of Ith from Corea’s southern valleys, the followers of Strongbow from Waterford and Wexford, and the Williamites from Fermanagh and Meath-all, all uniting in harmonious concert to struggle for this dear old land.”

And a young poet of the Nation sang the event in authentic verse, of which one couplet passed from mouth to mouth :-
“The news was blazed from every hill, and rung from every steeple;
And all the land, with gladness filled, were one united people”

The reception of the League by the country was something as unprecedented as the union from which it sprang. In the first week county meetings were held in Wexford and Kilkenny, where Dr. M’Knight, Rev. John Rogers, Rev. David Bell, and other leading ministers of the Presbyterian Church had a cordial reception, and were overwhelmed with private hospitalities. Sergeant Shee, a leader of the Common Law Bar in London, presided at the Kilkenny meetings and justified the principles of the League, a fact of great significance. In the second week a deputation of Catholic laymen crossed the Boyne, and met a great assembly of tenant farmers at Ballibay, the noted headquarters of the Orangemen of three counties. Resolutions were proposed by Masters of Orange Lodges, and seconded by Catholic priests, and the Reverend Mr, Godkin, my old friend in Belfast, now a Congregational minister .in Londonderry, invited the deputation to go further North, and receive the welcome of Ulster under the historic walls of Derry.

Lucas, who was ordinarily a man of sound judgment, made a mistake at Ballibay which bore bitter fruits. The Rev. David Bell had arranged that the Dublin deputation should stop at the “York Arms,” an hotel kept by the family of Sam Grey, as a sign of amity and unity. As Lucas and I approached the town. we were met by a local agitator named J. J. Hughes, who assured us that the Catholics were indignant at our stopping at the Orange headquarters, and besought us to go elsewhere. I replied that the fact was a signal evidence of the success of our movement, and that if the Orangemen were sacrificing their prejudices Catholics must not cherish theirs. I went to the “York Arms” and had a committee meeting in the evening, but Lucas unfortunately accepted the advice pressed upon us, and went elsewhere, a fact which created ah opinion in the North altogether unfounded, that he was a man of intractable prejudices. The great county of Meath assembled on the banks of the Boyne. An immense meeting was addressed, among others by Sharman Crawford, who justified the principles of valued rents.

The meeting passed a resolution pledging the county to support no candidate at the next election who would not support the principles of the League. Tipperary followed Meath and was followed in its turn by Orange Tyrone, where over the platform waved a banner of orange, green, and blue – colours which had not met in Tyrone in the memory of man except in open conflict. Mr. Powlett Scrope, an English member and well known for his benevolent sympathy with the labouring classes, sent me his congratulations on the union of creeds so long separated, and proclaimed the fundamental principle that “Property can have no rights inconsistent with the welfare of the people”

Donegal followed Tyrone, and Clare followed Donegal, everywhere the union of creeds was complete, and harmonious, and priest and presbyter vied in language of conciliation. They were invited to knock at the gates of Limerick as well as the gates of Derry, once the citadels of contending armies, and they were assured of a cordial welcome in both.

Hope, which had died out of the hearts of the people, rekindled like a torch; money, which had been long refused for all political purposes, came in a golden tide. The League had commenced in autumn) and when the winter was half over local societies were planted in nineteen counties out of thirty-two, an agency which gave the Council more eyes than Argus and more hands than Briareus, and, above all, the basis for obtaining a Parliamentary party was being silently laid. More than thirty constituencies pledged themselves to elect only leaguers prepared to work in and out of Parliament for the establishment of our principles.


On this sunny prospect broke a sudden storm. The appointment of a Catholic Hierarchy in England by the Pope, and Lord John Russell’s famous Durham letter, were occupying all minds.

A vacancy in the Archbishopric of Armagh a little earlier enabled the Pope to appoint to the Primacy Dr. Cullen, Rector of the Irish College at Rome, a man who had spent his life in the labours and traditions of that Imperial City. He came with the additional and unmeasured authority of a Papal Delegate, and was welcomed with an interest not unmixed with awe, He had led a cloistered life in Rome, knew nothing of men, had an inordinate belief in maxims of policy designed for other regions, and a rooted reliance on his own judgment. The new ruler did not realise the common ideal of an Italian ecclesiastical diplomat. He had an awkward, upimpressive figure, and his speech was colloquial and commonplace, but under an unpromising exterior lay a decisive will and an overwhelming sense of authority which, with the mysterious attributes of Delegate of the Holy Father, gave his bearing not dignity indeed, but an air of individuality and power.

His idea of government was said to be simple to nudity. Ireland should be ruled, as Rome was ruled, by ecclesiastics, laymen having no function but to contribute a sympathetic and deferential audience. The lively, joyous, loud speaking Celt, with his strong sense of individuality and keen love of distinction, was a hopeless subject for such an experiment, but of this the new-comer knew nothing.

Dr. Cullen had been in confidential correspondence with Lucas for years, and was pleased with his ability and zeal, and did not doubt that he would fall submissively into his projects. He gave him a subscription for the League, and thought it might do good if it held altogether aloof from rash counsels and temerarious projects of which he believed I was a focus. But Lucas understood the era and the country better than the Primate, and held on his course steadily with the League.

The Irish landlords determined to turn this sectarian feud to their purpose. The Grand Orange Lodge published an exhortation to good Protestants to rally round their menaced institutions, and a great landlord meeting was held in Dublin to kindle the No-Popery feeling of the country anew. No greater danger than this could assail the recent union of North and South, but the Northerners stood firm, and minister after minister at League meetings declared that the clamour of the landlords, and probably of Lord John Russell, was mainly designed to break up the blessed harmony which existed in Ireland.

Catholic Defence Association

Dr. Cullen, zealous for religion and indifferent to everything else, formed a Catholic Defence Association in Ireland, and chose as his principal colleagues and exponents Mr. William Keogh, Mr. John Sadleir, and Mr. John Reynolds, three men whose names need no addition to any reader who has lived in the same generation. Lucas, as a Catholic journalist, necessarily entered into this new Association. I declined to because I was committed to a work of far higher importance, failing whiich another million of the Irish people would be shovelled into pauper graves.

Mr. Keogh was a vigorous speaker, and his confederate, John Sadleir, though never heard in debate, was skilled in the wiles and devices by political dupes are enlisted. These two men saw the opportunity the religious struggles gave them to better their parliamentary position, for the Peelites under Mr. Gladstone and the Free Traders under Mr. Cobden opposed the new Penal Law by which Lord John Russell designed to strike the Cathohc episcopacy. A considerable opposition was created in the House of Commons, and Mr. Keogh, who had rarely given an honest vote or uttered an honest sentiment, returned to Ireland as the champion of the Church and of the country. He wanted a political organisation at his back and a Catholic Defence Association furnished it. It cannot be denied, that the agitation if wisely conducted was justified by the new Whig policy if the interest of Ireland in keeping North and South united was not liable to be imperilled by it. A large number of the Catholic clergy went into the Defence Association; but two sections of them, experienced old parish priests who knew the condition of the rural districts, and vigorous curates whose hearts were aflame with sympathy for the people, remained true to the League.

Lucas endeavoured by private expostulation to realise to the bishops the actual interests of the country at the moment, but he was essentially a Catholic journalist, and in the ‘Tablet’ he maintained a close relation with the policy of the Episcopacy.

Dr. M’Knight was pained and finally exasperated by Lucas’s articles at this time, and naturally sent his complaints to me. But there was no immediate remedy possible.

The General Election A remedy, however, seemed to come in an unexpected direction, Mr. Disraeli, by an adroit motion which the Irish members supported, put Lord John Russell in a minority, and he resigned. If a Government could be formed from the Opposition there was an end to the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, and Ireland would be free to pursue its more vital purpose alone. But Lord Derby was not able to form a Government at that time, and the Whigs returned to office and carried their Penal Bill into law, but so damaged and discredited that neither they nor their successors ever made any use of it, and it was finally repealed after nearly thirty years.

A little later the Russell Administration was effectually ejected from Downing Street. Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli sat in their places, supported, however, only by a minority of the House of Commons, and a general election was announced. This was the opportunity the League had long anticipated. A list of trustworthy candidates was immediately prepared, with the name of Sergeant Shee at the head of it. That place was at first assigned to Sharman Crawford, for whom a Southern constituency was provided; but the Northerners insisted that he must fight the county Down, which he alone could win.

Dr. M’Knight found it impracticable to reconcile a Parliamentary career with his office as editor of the ‘Banner of Ulster,’ and Lucas’s name and mine were next on the list. It was only after serious hesitation that I consented to enter Parliament. I had not the deep chest and wide shoulders they need who undertake that exhausting career. But I longed to try the experiment of independent opposition which I had uurged on the Confederation, and to have the tragic story of the lrish tenantry told before the faces of their oppressors.

We sought to strengthen our party by bringing into it a great Englishman, John Stuart Mill, whose opinions we largely shared, and failed only for reasons which he has specified in his memoirs. The first contest befell at New Ross, where I defeated Sir Thomas Redington, Under Secretary to Lord Clarendon, and his active agent during my long contest with him, and who, although, a Catholic, had continued to hold office under Lord John Russell while he passed the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill. This election was one of the most interesting and significant incidents in my life. But I have described it in a former book, and I must not repeat the story here. A birds-eye view of the transaction, however, is indispensable to my memoir.

New Ross

New Ross asked a candidate from the League, and the Council sent me accompanied by Father Tom O’Shea and S. H. Bindon, the secretary. The most influential member of the Election Committee was well understood to be Father Doyle, the senior curate of the town. We saw him immediately, and while sharing his evening meal he frankly told me that I had no chance of success. The committee were nearly all Old lrelanders, and he was persuaded they would accept no Young Irelander. I induced him to call them together that I might face their objections.

Next morning the committee, which consisted of about two dozen persons, mustered eighteen or twenty, and Father Doyle, who was suffering from influenza, arrived, wrapped in a heavy cloak and muffler, to look on, he said, but not prepared to take part in the proceedings. Three or four members who would not consent to pay me the courtesy of listening to me came to the door and stared in for a minute or two as at some strange animal, and then took their departure. I had formed a resolution during a sleepless night to make that day a cardinal one in my life; it might be one of discomfiture and disaster; but at any rate it should be signal and decisive.

I told the committee I had been forewarned of their prejudice against me because I was associated with men whom I believed to be the most enlightened and disinterested whom Ireland had known in this century, but they had probably only heard one side of the case, and should now hear the other.

A committee who were all Irishmen, who were probably all Repealers, and who had the additional ground of sympathy that they were all Catholics, afforded as fair a tribunal as I could ever hope to appeal to on my past career and my present designs, and I had come to the fixed resolution of accepting their verdict as final, whatever it might be. If after hearing my defence of the conduct of the Young Irelanders, and my aims in entering Parliament they declared that I was not a fit candidate for New Ross, I would abandon my candidature, resign my seat on the Council of the League, discontinue the ‘Nation,’ and retire from Irish affairs for ever. This was my fixed determination, and I spoke for an hour under the strong feeling created by the belief that it was perhaps my last appeal to an Irish audience.

I do not know, and I can never know, to what extent I won the sympathy of the committee, for a factor came into play which baffled all calculation. As soon as I sat down Father Doyle stript off his cloak and muffler, and plunged into the business. He declared he would give me his unequivocal support, and made a passionate appeal for fair play, before which opposition seemed gradually to melt away. There were thrilling cheers which were not for the orator solely, as he urged point after point, and when I withdrew I believed that a majority of the committee were prepared to support me.

The Whigs were alarmed and the local gentry of both parties were besought to lend their help to Redington. The League felt that the contest was about to be a decisive one, and an address to the electors of Ross, signed by fifty leading Leaguers, North and South, lay and clerical, was issued and a strong deputation of Northerners and Southerners addressed the constituency in a public meeting. The landlord of the town and the parish priest were unfriendly to me, and success would have been impossible but for the decisive will of Father Doyle. He had promised his support, he said, and he did not feel relieved from his pledge because his respected pastor had changed his mind. The people, familiar with his daily life and unsleeping services to the poor, accepted his guidance. The contest occupied the Press everywhere, it was the chief topic wherever political issues were debated, and the interest constantly increased. The young priests throughout the diocese of Ferns, some of whom had been Young Irelanders; and all of whom were friends of Father Doyle, trooped in to aid the popular cause, and the result of two days’ canvass was that a majority of the electors were pledged to support Duffy.

The ‘Freeman’s Journal’ announced that the Reform Club in London had granted funds to tamper with the constituency, and then, as a counter move, a public fund was immediately opened to bear the entire expense of the election. The design spread from Dublin to London, and from London to New york. Enough funds, and more than enough, were supplied for the long contest, and the election did not cost me a shilling. I have many times before and since refused to accept tribute or testimonial for public services to the Irish people, but to relieve a man from the necessity of buying a seat which he does not intend to sell is a wise national policy and a good public investment. William O’Hara, uncle of Mrs. John Dillon, when my intention of entering Parliament became public, offered me a qualification by a rent-charge on his estate in the county Dublin; and when a report got about that Redington hoped to defeat me on some supposed informality in this instrument, William Eliot Hudson, living apart from politics, engrossed in the cultivation of national art and literature, sent me a rent-charge on his estate in Cork to make assurance doubly sure.

The organ of the Castle assailed me in every number. I had spent my life in work which at all events was not obscure or discreditable, but the Castle critic declared I was no better than an adventurer, and that it was preposterous to compare my claims with those of the eminent official against whom I had the presumption to appear. I joined issue in a letter, not to the libellers, but to their employer : –
“I am ‘an adventurer’ (it seems) , without stake or fortune in the country.’ Well, be it so. I have no more stake in the country than Henry Grattan had when he entered the Irish Parliament. I am not much richer than Andrew Marvell when he sat in the English Commons. But let it be noted that whatever I have, great or small, was honestly earned. Not a penny of it was won, Sir Thomas, by denying the country or the creed of my fathers. There is no blood-money in it, Mr. Under-Secretary. Dublin Castle stood open for me also if I could walk in the miry footsteps of a Monahan or a Redington. The mart where Irish Catholics are bought, sold, or exchanged at the highest market-price, would not have refused even such humble capacities as mine when it finds it answers to buy up squires from Galway and ‘fat cattle from the banks of the Barrow.’ …I am ‘an adventurer!,’ ‘ Thank Heaven, I am independent,’ Robert Burns wrote, ‘for I have learned to hold a plough,’ if I may venture to echo so noble a sentiment, I would say, ‘Thank Heaven, I am independent, for I have learned to hold a pen!'”

The contest, I reminded my adversary, had begun in the Court in Green Street. In their own dens of law I had defeated him and his patron, Lord Clarendon, and now the case was set down for rehearing at New Ross :-
“There we shall have fair play at last, Mr. Justice Petrin shall not close the door against the people. Mr. Sheriff French shall not pack the panel. Mr. Solicitor Hatchell shall not pick and choose the jury, Mr. Baron Lefroy shall not harangue the audience in’ double- barrelled’ charges. We shall have untainted justice, and you shall remember it to your dying day.”

The prediction was justified. In the end Redington withdrew from the contest in despair. A candidate set up by the owner of the town, however, went to the poll, but by twelve o’clock the contest was over, and I had won by a majority of more than two to one. Even my bitterest Old Ireland opponents in the ,committee voted for me in the end. That night the town was illuminated, and the neighbouring hills blazed with bonfires to celebrate an event which a dozen weeks before seemed impossible.

The victory was pleasant news to my friends beyond the Atlantic. Meagher wrote to me :-
“It was a glorious licking you gave that ‘baptized spaniel’ and all the curs, of high and low degree, that hunted with him. Dillon and O’Gorman thoroughly unite with me in this expression of delight! and have specially requested me to say so.”

Election Results

I was already a member when Lucas stood for Meath, and able to aid him by my personal presence. From Meath, I went to Kilkenny, where I assisted at the election of Sergeant Shee, and from Kilkenny to Wexford, where the young priests who had aided my contest in New Ross carried the county in favour of one of my friends – Patrick M’Mahon, a barrister practising in London. John Francis Maguire, a popular journalist, was selected for Dungarvan against the influence of the Duke of Devonshire, and Tristram Kennedy for Louth against the influence of all the local gentry. Two Irishmen resident in London, Richard Swift, late Sheriff of Middlesex, and Dr. Brady, a man of large fortune, fought and won under the sanction of the League, counties where great expenditure had become habitual.

We did not attempt to displace men who had distinguished themselves in the Catholic Association, but our friends in their constituencies compelled them to accept a pledge to support Sharman Crawford’s Bill, which included all the leading principles of the League but one. The original union of North and South did not create a greater surprise than the result of these, which secured the return of more than half the Irish members on the new principles.

Meeting & Resolution

When the elections were finished throughout the United Kingdom the Government and the Opposition each claimed a majority. This was the precise result we had hoped for and predicted; for now, plainly, Irish votes would prove decisive. While the new members were still under the spell of the hustings, a conference of the friends of Tenant-Right was summoned by the League, to which all the members pledged to Crawford’s Bill were invited. It met on September 8th in the City Assembly House at Dublin. Upwards of forty members of Parliament, about two hundred Catholic and Presbyterian clergymen, and gentlemen farmers, traders, and professional men from every district in the country, answered the call. Sharman Crawford presided; the Conference deliberated from ten in the morning till ten at night with unbroken temper and courtesy. The object of the Leaguers in this Conference was to obtain the adhesion of the whole body of members to the critical and cardinal policy of Independent Opposition. Some of the old brigade hesitated and made difficulties, but the temper of the Conference could not be mistaken, and Mr. Keogh and his friend Mr. John Sadleir fell in with it, and were zealous for the policy and practice of independence.

The following Resolution was adopted ;-
“That, in the unanimous opinion of this Conference, it is essential to the proper management of this cause that the members of Parliament who have been returned on Tenant-Right principles should hold themselves perfectly independent of and in opposition to all Governments which do not make it a part of their policy and a Cabinet question to give to the tenantry of Ireland a measure fully embodying the principles of Sharman Crawford’s Bill.”

The number of members of Parliament accepting the decision of the Conference amounted to upwards of fifty; and no opposition from any quarter disturbed its unanimity. Since John Forster vacated the chair of the Irish Commons half a century before so effectual and practical a work for Ireland was not accomplished as at these two sittings.

As Mr. Crawford was defeated in Down it was directed by an unanimous vote that Mr.Sergeant Shee, Mr. Keogh, Mr. Lucas, and Mr. Gavan Duffy should be requested to place their names on the back of the Bill and take charge of it.

I stated in the ‘Nation’ the principle of Independent Opposition now at last triumphant as it was understood by the new Party :-
” The Irish members will keep themselves apart as an independent Party and a distinct power; precisely as the Pitt Party, the Peel Party, and the Free Trade Party did when they were small minorities and in hopeless opposition. They will act together; and in order to do so submit individual opinion, within the limits of conscience, to the common sense of the majority. They will vote for every measure of benefit to Ireland, no matter from whom it may proceed.

They will vote against ministers opposed to the Irish measures, not, as the Chronicle alleges, on every question, but on any question (not involving the serious interests of Ireland) on which they can be turned out of office.” Thus the basis was laid for a great Parliamentary campaign for the long-neglected claims of the Irish tenantry.

The Irish people, who are contemptuously, but not altogether unjustly, accused of being incuriosi suorum, and the English people, who are indifferent to whatever is merely Irish, have let the events of this era fall into obscurity, but some of the transactions which are now to be detailed were powerful and permanent factors in the political history of Ireland as it is, and as it is to be.

Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, Early Life in Monaghan

The following is the first part of chapter 1, from ‘My Life in Two Hemisphere’s written by Charles Gavan Duffy. The chapter has been broken down into 4 sections or pages. Names mentioned in each section are linked to on that page. Mr. Duffy speaks of his schooling, the attitudes of Presbyterian children to Catholic children and vice versa, friendships with those who were not Catholic, Orange parades, books which were available to read at the time and much more. Part 1 deals with his introduction, the Sacrament of Confirmation and schooling. Part 2 with books, friends & Orangemen, John Sloan. Part 3 with Politics, Charles Hamilton Teeling, Dublin & Lord Mulgrave. Notes written at a later stage, relating to people or places mentioned in the chapter itself. Names mentioned include: Patrick Gavan, Captain John Dawson, Philip Hughes, Neil Quin, Revd. John Bleckly, Mat Trumble, Henry McManus, Terence Bellew McManus, John Sloan, Dacre Hamilton, Father Bogue, Father Tierney, Rev. John Caulfield, John Duffy, Charles Hamilton Teeling, Thomas O’Hagan,, Jimmy Sherry.

Charles Gavan Duffy

I am shy of pedigrees. When I was a boy, however, there were half a dozen of my relations among the Catholic priests of the diocese of Clogher, and I listened with complacency to their talk of the M’Mahons, chiefs of Oriel, and the M’Kennas, chiefs of Truagh, as our near kinsmen, and I was delighted to be told that under George III. when the existence of a priest was at last grudgingly recognised, provided he could find two freeholders willing to be sureties for his good behaviour, such sureties for a dozen priests of Clogher were furnished by the Duffys of Monaghan, who held land in their native Oriel, under the imperfect tenure permitted by law. These were facts which in after life I submitted to the test of critical scrutiny, and found to be authentic.

I was born in the town of Monaghan on Good Friday, 1816. My father, John Duffy, was a shopkeeper, who by industry and integrity had accumulated considerable property in houses and townparks, and had purchased a share in a bleach-green at Keady, the art of transforming the grey web into one of dazzling whiteness being then, as it still is, one of the standard industries of the country. The Ulster Catholics had been reduced by law to abject penury, but at the beginning of the nineteenth century they were here and there slowly lifting their heads. Even while the penury was sorest old social distinctions were cherished, and my father, as a descendant of “the old stock,” was one of the few leaders of the people in his district. Among the family papers bequeathed to me was a resolution of the Catholics of Monaghan, thanking him for having acted as their faithful treasurer for sixteen years, an authentic testimonial which I prefer to a glittering and shadowy pedigree furnished by Ulster King at Arms.

My maternal grandfather, Patrick Gavan, was notable in his day as a Catholic who had succeeded in emerging from the obscure and trampled multitude. He held on lease a large tract of land which had once belonged to his clan, and was in fact a gentleman farmer. He was known among his neighbours as “the King of Aughabog,” and I remember when a child pestering my mother to show me any crown or sceptre he had bequeathed to his posterity; but to my despair there were no regalia forthcoming. A tradition, however, has descended to us which keeps him and his dame fresh in our memory. When the Union was proposed it was sweetened by a promise of Catholic Emancipation from a united Parliament, which the Irish Parliament had peremptorily refused; and Paddy Gavan, like the Catholic Primate of the day, thought the compromise ought to be accepted, and got a petition in its favour signed by many of his neighbours. But our grandmother Judith flew into a rage at the proposal to give up Ireland for a bribe, and flung the petition into the fire. The flame she kindled that day has illuminated her memory for more than three generations among a numerous progeny who are proud to bear her name. Judith, I regret to say, derived her name, according to the genealogists, and perhaps her robust will, from a Puritan soldier; her mother being daughter and heiress of Captain John Dawson, of Dartry, who gave her in marriage to a native gentleman, one of the MacMahons of Oriel, father of our Judith.

When my father died I was only ten years of age, and the youngest of six children. As one of my elder brothers was in the office of Philip Hughes, an enterprising merchant in. Newry, who was our kinsman; a second in the office of another Newry merchant (the father of Sir Patrick Jennings, who has risen to distinction in New South Wales in recent time); and a third pursuing his studies as a medical student in Scotland, the management of the family interests fell wholly on my mother. If sleepless assiduity in the interest of her children could secure success she would have succeeded; but to regulate complicated accounts and take up the thread of incomplete projects, was a task for which she had no experience or training, and I was not of an age to be of any assistance to her. It looks like a dream of another life, that distant time when, seeing her exhausted with labour, I have induced her to hear me read a story to divert her jaded mind, “The Children of the Abbey,” perhaps, or “The Scottish Chiefs” for though the modern novel was born with Waverley it had not yet penetrated into provincial Ireland, and there was no national novel or romance of which I had ever heard.

The earliest political incident I can recall was hearing my father read the letters of Wellington and Peel, when they refused to serve with George Canning because he was friendly to Catholic Emancipation. I was barely nine years of age, but the oppressed learn their wrongs early, and I already knew dimly and vaguely that Catholic Emancipation incant the deliverance of our race from the subjection to Orange ascendancy in which we habitually lived.

Sacrament of Confirmation

At what time does a boy discover that he has in his bosom a monitor who punishes him when he misbehaves, and comforts him if he suffers unjustly? The Sacrament of Confirmation is administered to Catholic children at an early age, generally before they enter on their teens, and I received it in the ordinary course. The bishop and a senior priest sat on the altar steps, and questioned each boy in turn on the principles of Christian doctrine. When I had gone through the examination the bishop asked the assistant priest, “Do you think we may pass this lad?” The priest thought perhaps they might, and I retired deeply humiliated. The ceremony was followed by a distribution of prizes supposed to be granted in the order of merit. The schoolmistress of the chapel school who had prepared the boys for the sacrament arranged the prize list, and to my consternation I heard the first prize assigned to Charles Duffy, who in fact, had barely escaped rejection. For many a day afterwards I was disturbed and unhappy with the sense of being an impostor who had received a distinction in the face of the whole congregation which he did not deserve. I have never since doubted that conscience is a tribunal before which the boy is as peremptorily summoned as the man.

An ardent youngster must have some outlet for his sympathies, and before patriotism awoke I was passionately religious. I can recall a time when I was despatched to bed at nightfall and took a coarse board with me to kneel upon under the blanket lest my prayers should be too luxurious; and for years after I read controversial books with avidity, and was ready on the shortest notice to defend the most abstruse mysteries of religion. But the first passion was superseded after a time by one which has lasted all my life – the determination to love, and, if possible, serve Ireland.


Some account of my early schools will help the reader to understand the social condition of Ulster at that time. The Ulster Catholics had been deprived by the Puritan Parliament in Dublin of their lands, their churches, and their schools at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and they were long forbidden by statute to obtain education at home or abroad, or to possess property in land. At the time I speak of their schools were still very often what were then known as “poor schools.” The schoolroom was commonly a barn or a garret, the furniture rude and scanty, the walls and windows bare, and some of the pupils probably shoeless and unwashed. But these establishments were regarded as evidence of remarkable progress by those who remembered the “hedge schools” of a previous generation, which had not even the shelter of a roof. My first schoolmaster was a one-handed man, named Neil Quin, who had probably become a teacher because this deficiency unfitted him for any other employment. He performed duties which were merely manual with marvellous dexterity – mending a pen, for example, as speedily and skilfully as a man with two hands. A long loop of twine passed through two holes in a table held the quill, flat, and was kept fast by his foot in the other end of the loop, while he trimmed it with his right hand, which happily remained. Of the elements of education Mr. Quin did not teach us much, I fear, but he told us stories, generally little apologues or homilies, intended to impart a homely moral. His rudimentary science was taught with a scanty equipment of instruments, but he contrived to make it impressive. One day he let his hat fall from his head to the floor, and exclaimed, “Now, boys, which of you will tell me why that hat fell down to the ground instead of failing up to the ceiling?”

My escape from this primitive institution was one of the most fortunate incidents of my life. My eldest sister, a girl of vigorous will, met me one day coming home from school in the midst of a clamorous swarm of urchins, some of them bare-footed and ragged, and all riotous and undisciplined, and she interposed with a vigour worthy of our grandmother Judith. She peremptorily declared that I should never return to that society. But where was I to go? There was not a Catholic school in the county a whit better. There was, however, a classical academy in the town taught by a Presbyterian minister, the Reverend John Bleckley, where the boarders were sons of the small gentry and professional men of two or three neighbouring counties, and the day boys sons of the principal townspeople. There were about fifty pupils, all Protestants or Presbyterians, a Catholic boy never having been seen within the walls. It needed a considerable stock of moral courage to contemplate sending me to such an, establishment, where I might be ill-received, or, if not ill-received, where I might be taught to despise the boys of my own race and creed whom I had quitted.

The consent of my guardian, a parish priest( Rev. James Duffy, P.P., of Muckno, Castleblayney, afterwards canon of his diocese, Clogher.) living a dozen miles away, had to be obtained, and he had liberality and good sense enough to approve of the project. Mr. Bleckley received me graciously, but during the first day one of the boys told me (what I soon learned had been muttered among many others) that it was unpardonable presumption for a Papist to come among them. But the bigotry of boys is mostly inherited from their elders, and has little root. This lad, Mat Trumble, son of a lieutenant in the British Army, but also grandson of a chaplain of the Volunteers, afterwards a notable United Irishman soon became my close friend. He was a youth of good intellect, resolute will, and considerable reading, and with such aid I did not do badly in the strange society on which I had intruded. During the first year a boys’ parliament, a boys’ regiment, and a boys’ newspaper were established, which I did something to initiate, and my connection with them was vehemently resisted in the name of Protestant ascendancy. But after a fierce debate the majority voted my emancipation, three years before the legislators of larger growth at St. Stephen’s made a similar concession to my seniors. I used to boast that I was the first Catholic emancipated in Ireland, but though tolerated I was never allowed altogether to forget that I belonged to the race who were beaten at the Boyne. A cynical lad, who afterwards became a noted local preacher, sometimes occupied the recreation hour with marvellous stories of Popish atrocities designed for my edification.

One of them is worth quoting as an illustration of the cruel and wicked inventions by which the rancour of race hatred was promoted:
A farmer’s son – so the story ran – went to confession, and as his offences were serious the priest made a tally with chalk on the sleeve of his coat, that the penance might be proportionate to the sins. “I was too intimate with a neighbour’s daughter, your Reverence.” “Very bad,” says the priest, making a stroke on his arm with the chalk. “There was a baby, your Reverence, and, to keep it dark, I made her throw it in the river.” “Oh, you unfortunate miscreant,” cried the priest, making two long strokes on his arm; “I’m afraid you’ll never see purgatory. Anything else?” “Yes, your Reverence, God forgive me, there’s something worse. The girl took to fretting; I was afraid she’d tell her people, and I shoved her into a bog-hole.” ” Away with you,” cried the priest, starting to his feet in a rage. “I can’t absolve a double murderer who has hid his crime from punishment.” “But, your Reverence, – wait a minute, I forgot to tell you she was a black Prisbiteran.” “Pooh ! pooh!” says the priest, brushing the score off his arm, “why did you make me dirty my coat?” (‘Black’ as used here does not refer to the colour of the girl’s skin)

Mat Trumble, who was present, remarked that if the story was true, and doubtless it wasn’t, the priest might have found a precedent in Anglo-Irish history, when the violation of a married woman, with which two Norman soldiers were charged in a court of Pale ended in a judgment that no offence was proved, as the victim was a mere Irishwoman!

Mr. Bleckley was a careful and assiduous teacher, much devoted to his school, and for five years I profited by his instructions. We parted under circumstances which, as I have never since doubted, justified me in quitting him abruptly. One morning before the arrival of the head-master I had a contest with one of the boys about something I have altogether forgotten. He complained to an usher, but, as the ushers were not permitted to punish the boys, this one promised to report me for misconduct. On the arrival of the master he did so, and Mr. Bleckley, who was perhaps disturbed by some personal trouble, immediately laid hold of me, stretched me over a desk, according to his practice, and administered a sharp discipline with a leather strap. When he had finished he faced me and demanded, “Now, sir, what have you got to say for yourself ?” Though the result proved a great inconvenience to me I can never regret what happened as a test of character. “Say,” I roared, “I say it is too late to ask for my defence after I have been punished; and that I will never suffer you to lay hands on me again.” I seized my cap and vanished out of the school. Mr. Bleckley reported the facts to my mother, not ungenerously, I think, but I could not be induced to submit again to his authority. With the assistance of a student preparing for Maynooth, and in concert with my constant chum Mat Trumble, I read at home, to replace, as far as I could, the direction of a competent teacher.

The Presbyterian planters from whom my schoolfellows were descended preserved to an amazing degree the characteristics of their Scottish ancestors. They were thrifty, industrious, and parsimonious, and sometimes spoke a language worthy of Dumfriesshire. Their familiar sayings were of the same origin. “Keep the halter shank in your ain hand,” was a Pawkie warning against rash confidence; or, “Don’t let the want come at the web’s end,” an exhortation to fore-sight. The name employed to designate a courtesan was “an idle girl,” a phrase which implies a population devoted to labour and duty. The few books which circulated among them were steeped in the bitterness of hereditary feuds. I remember being horror-struck by a copy of “Fox’s Book of Martyrs,” with illustrations fit to poison the spirit of a community for a century. Men reared for the liberal professions might in time outlive these prejudices, but with the poor and ignorant time only deepens them. But the nationalities sometimes mingled marvellously. I can recall more than one descendant of Puritan settlers smitten with sympathy for the Celtic tongue and Celtic traditions, and on the other hand O’Neills and MacMahons speaking a dialect that might pass muster in Midlothian, and practising economies which would charm Sir Andrew Wylie.


A thoughtful boy needs a supply of books almost as imperatively as his daily bread. There were few books in my mother’s house, but they included, some which were treasures to an inquisitive lad. “Gil Blas,” in pocket volume, with illustrations which are as familiar to my memory as the cartoons of Raphael; “Robinson Crusoe,” “Ward’s Cantos” (a burlesque history of the Protestant Reformation), and above all a volume of a little periodical full of Irish ideas, entitled “Captain Rock in London, or the Chieftain’s Weekly Gazette. I laugh still at a pleasant dialogue on the affairs of Ireland between the editor and an English gentleman whom he accidentally met of a morning in the Green Park. At the conclusion of their talk the stranger presented his gold snuff-box to his interlocutor, saying, “Take this, my friend, as a little memorial of the most useful and instructive conversation I have ever had on Irish affairs; you will not value it the less when I tell you that I am the Prince Regent.” “Will your Royal Highness,” said the Irishman, “permit me, in tendering my grateful thanks, to name myself, for I fear your Royal Highness has heard of me before?” “By all means,” said the Prince, a good deal amused at the assurance of the intrepid Irishman, “tell me who you are.” “May it please your Royal Highness, I am Captain Rock!” The Captain’s name in those days was equivalent to a dynamiter or an Irish Invincible in our own.

I laid all our neighbours under contribution, and I can remember a friendly shopkeeper hoisting me up in his arms while I ransacked the upper shelves of his shop where the books of a dead customer were stowed away. I fished out “Peregrine Pickle,” “Roderick Random,” “Billy Bluff,” “Irish Rogues and Rapparees,” and some odd volumes of ‘the Spectator’ . Later a new world opened up to me in the library of my guardian. The spiritual shepherds naturally shared the privation of their flocks, and my guardian, like many another priest of that day, was content to live in a peasant’s cottage into which a village carpenter had put some sash windows and wooden floors, and which a country mason had plastered and whitewashed, but which was rich in books and engravings. I do not think he ever introduced me to any of his collection, except a couple which came in too threatening a form to be welcome, Valpy’s “Prosody,” and Dr. O’Reilly’s “Catechism of Catholic Doctrine,” but I discovered treasure-troves for myself. I found three or four soiled and tattered plays of Shakespeare, and read them with avidity, but I did not know, and was probably afraid to inquire if there were any more by the same hand. It was years later that I met elsewhere a large volume as big as the family Bible labelled “Shakespeare,” and took it up with trembling hands and in a fever of excitement to ascertain whether there actually existed and was attainable such a store-house of the pleasure, I had already tasted. I found also “Robin Hood” among my guardian’s books, but the volume was so ill-edited that one met Little John and Friar Tuck in company with Robin long before reaching the ballad describing their first encounter. I was tortured with the incongruity, and to re-edit that book was one of my earliest literary projects, before I had ever seen a publisher or a printing office. There were a volume or two of Swift’s prose and poetry, of which I could make little. I chanced upon the story of “An Unfortunate Lady,” that entrusted the management of her affairs to a neighbouring squire, who plundered her habitually and quite shamelessly for his own profit. The author’s advice that the ill-used lady should continue to maintain the knavish squire in the position of her agent, on condition that he undertook to spend her rents for the future for the benefit of her tenants and not for his own pleasure, seemed to me a singularly weak and unsatisfactory dinouement of such a story. I was impatient to see the knave kicked out of the partnership, and peremptorily required to refund his pilferiiigs. It finally dawned on me that Dr. Swift was perhaps telling the story of Ireland, of which I knew almost nothing, and I was restless till I got my conjecture verified, “Moore’s Melodies” (Thomas Moore) were there and soon passed permanently into my memory, and Burns’s poems, which were as common in Ulster as in Dumfriesshire.

The prints in the single sitting-room were as instructive as the books. I remember best an engraving of “Louis XVI. taking leave of his Family,” for Irish Catholics were Royalists till misgovernment made Radicals of them ; and “Pius VI. refusing Bonaparte’s offer of a National Cockade and a Pension.” There were also portraits in rude wood- cuts of O’Connell and Sheil, and of some Irish ecclesiastics.

There was no regular bookseller’s shop in Monaghan, but a couple of printers sold school-books; and at a weekly market there was always a pedlar who supplied, at a few pence, cheap books printed at Belfast, of which the most popular were the “Battle of Aughrim” and “Billy Bluff” The drama of the battle was in the hands of every intelligent schoolboy in Ulster, who strode an imaginary stage as Sarsfield or Ginkle, according to his sympathies. I can recall a device employed by a book-hawker at that time to stimulate the interest of his customers, which may perhaps have been borrowed from precautions invented in the penal times. “I won’t sell my book,” he cried, “and I darn’t sell my book, for the law forbids me to sell my book, but I’ll sell my straw (producing a stalk of wheaten straw), and whoever buys my straw for a penny shall have my book for nothing.” I bought the straw on an occasion, counting upon some tremendous disclosure of iniquity in high places or some device for liberating Ireland. I forget what the brochure contained, but I have a painful recollection that the investment did not answer my expectation.

Friends & Orangemen

Next to books-perhaps before books-a boy’s earliest craving is for friends. I had three friends at that time who shared my whole life, and who in after years associated themselves with me in my public career, and continued till death my intimates and confidants. One was my school-fellow, Mat Trumble who was afterwards an occasional writer in the ‘Nation’; another was Henry MacManus, the artist, who ten years later, with John Hogan, the sculptor, presented to O’Connell, at the monster meeting of Mullagh-mast, a National Cap (which the English journalists insisted on identifying as the crown of Ireland); the third, Terence Bellew MacManus, who a quarter of a century later appeared in arms at Ballingarry, while I was a prisoner in Newgate, and in 1870 had a public funeral, so abnormal in extent and enthusiasm that it may be described as an historical event. By a happy accident these three young men represented three totally distinct elements of Irish society. Terence MacManus was at that time serving his apprenticeship to a woollen draper. He was a good-looking, strapping young fellow, full of life and gaiety; and as his people were under-stood to be a junior branch of the Bellews of Barmeath, he stood apart from his class-even his master at times designated him “the sprig of aristocracy.” Our Sunday afternoons (his only free time) were spent in long rambles, occupied chiefly with speculations and visions of what might be accomplished to reinstate our dethroned people in their rightful position. We did not know much of history, but we got what in recent times would be called “object lessons,” to keep it alive in our memory.

The Orange drum was heard on every hill from June till August to celebrate the Boyne and Aughrim Orange flags and arches adorned the town on party festivals; every office of authority in the province was held by men or their patrons and prolégés, and to be a Protestant of any sort was a diploma of merit and a title to social rank not to be disputed. My comrade and I felt our present wrongs keenly, but we knew little of the remote causes from which they sprang. I had never seen a history of Ireland at that time. A few years earlier I had walked half a dozen miles to borrow a quasi history, Moore’s “Captain Rock,” in a country parish which had the rare good fortune to possess a parish library. The Orange processions forbade us to forget the past, and there was a history transacted under our eyes of which it was impossible to be ignorant. The bench of magistrates who administered what was called justice was exclusively Protestant; the Grand jury, who expended the rates paid by the whole population were exclusively Protestant, and took care, it was alleged, that the improvements they projected should benefit only loyal citizens, themselves first of all.

There had been a Corporation endowed out of confiscated lands, but the body had long ceased to exist, and its endowment had fallen to the local landlord, Lord Rossmore, who, to keep up the pretence of a Corporation, still named a town sergeant and other subordinate officials at his sole pleasure. There was a corps of Yeomanry receiving arms and uniforms from the State, which was called out occasionally for inspection, and as the arms were left with the corps permanently, every Orange lodge had a liberal supply of guns, and used them freely at their annual festivity.

One of my earliest recollections is to have seen a butcher named Hughes shot in the public street before my mother’s door by a Government gun fired from an Orange procession. Hughes had probably used some offensive language, or perhaps thrown a stone at the procession, and for his offence, whatever it was, the immediate punishment was death. He was carried to the grave in a coffin festooned with red ribbons, to signify a murdered man, but there the incident ended. To indict any one for the murder would have been the idlest work of supererogation. His comrades in the procession would not have given evidence against him, and his comrades in the jury box would not have convicted him. The ordinary result of a party conflict at that time was that if a prosecution followed the Catholics were convicted, and the Orangemen escaped scot free, either by an acquittal or a split jury. On such juries a Catholic was not permitted to sit one time in a hundred.

The town we lived in was an eminently historic one. It was founded by monks in the sixth century, and is heard of throughout all the contests with England. During the Elizabethan wars it was frequently besieged, and was occupied alternately by Irish and English soldiers down to the time of Cromwell, when Owen Roe was succeeded in command of the national army by a Monaghan man, Heber MacMahon, chief of the MacMahons of Oriel, and at the same time Bishop of Clogher. In 1798 the first martyrs for Irish liberty were three of the Monaghan Militia, who were shot for being “Croppies.” But of this history we knew little except what concerned the affairs of 1798. Survivors of that era were still plentiful in the north, and one old servant entertained me constantly in my boyhood with its legends and traditions. She even dazzled me with the hope of some day being shown “where the Croppies bid their arms when the troubles were over” if I were a good boy and minded my books; but I suppose my conduct did not answer her expectations, for I never was shown the buried treasures.

Henry MacManus was of a widely different class. He was a Protestant, originally an Orangeman, and his training furnished a notable illustration of the policy and method of English rule in Ireland. His father was a Catholic soldier who died with his regiment, whereupon the paternal Government laid hold of his little boy, and reared him a Protestant in the Soldiers’ Hospital in Phoenix Park. But all this I came to know only in after life. He was several years my senior, and at the time when our intimacy commenced was an artist engaged in the impossible task of living by his profession in an Irish country town. We rarely spoke of politics at the beginning of our intimacy; but he was a passionate lover of art, familiar with the lives of great artists and with many great works of art, and he introduced me to an unknown region full of wonder and delight.
My first decisive impulse towards practical politics from without.

John Sloan

Our next door neighbour John Sloan, generally regarded as a Quaker, but belonging in fact to a more limited church, of which he was himself the patriarch, took an early interest in me, and undertook, as he declared, to open my mind. He had been a United Irishman, a generation earlier, and was one of a little club of shopkeepers and tradesmen, generally belonging to his own peculiar faith, who met once a week over pipes and punch to discuss the affairs of the nation. He was a tall, gaunt man, with only one eye, which gave his face an alarming but not at all a sinister expression.

His only daughter, a young woman of charming manner and striking beauty, was a mantua-maker. All day long he sat behind her counter, with a shelf of dingy books at his elbow, most of them, as I soon came to know, beyond the sympathy or intelligence of a boy. He had published a little tract himself, called “The Naked Truth,” the scope of which I can surmise from the naked truths he was in the habit of disclosing to me from time to time. His daughter one day, when I was a school-boy, called me playfully “Royal Charlie.” “No, no,” cried the old democrat, “he shan’t be ‘Royal Charlie,’ he shall be ‘Anti-Royal Charlie.’ I hope before his head is grey he will see the last of royalty here and everywhere.” From that time he spoke to me habitually of politics, and some of his axioms and homilies still remain in my memory. “Mind this, my boy, ’tis not so much the question of kings or governments which concerns us here in Ireland as the question of the land from which the people get their daily bread. In 1798 we spouted Gallic sentiments and sang the ‘Marseillaise’ and the ‘Shan Van Voght! over our grog; but all that was folly. What we ought to have borrowed from France was their sagacious idea of bundling the land-lords out of doors and putting the tenants in their shoes. When you are enrolling your United Irishmen a dozen or a score years hence, promise every man who will fight loyally for the cause twenty acres of land, rent free for ever, as soon as Ireland is liberated. The Orangemen, poor creatures, kept together to protect the landlords’ rents, may not listen to you. The drum and fife by day, and the jolly carouse at the lodge at night, will be too much for you; but the Presbyterians whose fathers were United Irishmen, would prefer twenty acres of free land to the whole clanjaffray of kings, Parliaments, and bum-bailiffs. You see the agent, Dacre Hamilton, cantering into town on a big horse every morning, and you hear of his master, Lord Rossmore, now and then, as the providence on which all our lives depend; but did you ever reflect, my boy, that the corn would ripen just as well, and the flax blossom, and ‘Cork reds’ eat as sweetly with chicken and bacon, if there was no agent and no landlord?” As patriarch of his little congregation John Sloan was accustomed to utter sonorous maxims of morality on occasion; but he was considerate of the Catholic lad, and I can recall only one dogma which he was accustomed to assure me included the whole corpus of Christian doctrine
“Do all the good you can, my boy, and do no harm.”


The most persuasive political teaching is often that which is altogether unpremeditated. During my father’s lifetime the Catholic leaders in the county, several of whom were his kinsmen, met habitually at his table; and after his death my guardian, when he visited Monaghan, gathered them round the same board. Such social reunions at that time were always the occasion for speech-making, and I was allowed to creep into some silent corner and listen to the oratory. The passionate talk of men striving for religious liberty moved me strangely, and whatever I did, not comprehend was explained to me later, if I asked for light, by Father Bogue and Father Tierney, who had taken the sympathetic boy into special favour. (the same Fr. Tierney was indicted with Daniel O’Connell and Charles Gavan Duffy for political conspiracy in later years)

But more specific knowledge came to me from another source. The senior curate in Monaghan, the Rev. John Caulfield, maintained the sort of friendship with me with which a generous man sometimes favours an intelligent boy. He spoke to me at times of the religious persecutions in Ulster. How the native princes, who were Catholics, were lured into foreign countries, and their fertile lands given to Scotchmen and Englishmen. How when the natives rose to regain their own, they were savagely repressed and almost exterminated, as if it was an unpardonable crime to take back the lands which their forefathers had held since the coming of St. Patrick. How, when the natives rose to support King James, and were defeated at the Battle of the Boyne by a foreign army, they still held Limerick year after year till the new king, with whose hooked nose Orange banners made me familiar, scaled a treaty with them, securing them the enjoyment of their lands and their religion and how the Puritan Parliament in Dublin, with a shameless disregard of honesty and honour, denied them the rights so secured. How the daughter of James, when she became queen, sanctioned laws designed to exterminate the Irish race. They were not permitted to till the lands except as serfs; it was a crime punishable with crushing penalties to teach them to read or write; and a priest, who performed the sacred functions for which he was ordained, was liable to be hanged. How their churches were taken away from them, and in later times they were not only humiliated by annual processions to celebrate their overthrow, but were compelled by law to pay a special tax levied only on Catholics to defray the cost of flags and regalia for some of their insulting celebrations.

Our wrongs, he said, were not merely historic; little more than a generation ago in the neighbouring county of Armagh, the Catholic farmers who possessed profitable farms were ordered to abandon them to their Protestant neighbours; a notice was served on them at night by a secret society called Peep o’ Day Boys, fixing the date at which they must betake themselves “to hell or Connaught,” and for a long time the Government at Dublin refused them protection, and they had no choice but to fly or have their houses burnt over their heads. In the acrimonious epigram of the time, the emigrants selected Connaught and left the alternative locality for their oppressors. My immature judgment was naturally inflamed with rage at these crimes; a rage which did not abate when I came to read history later and found the tragic story was substantially true. These, it may be said, were not teachings calculated to promote tranquillity and good will; but whether does the blame belong, to the men who committed or to the men who narrated the offences?

My three brothers died before I reached manhood. Of John, the brother nearest my own age, I heard recently, a story from a grey-haired kinsman, a landowner in Buenos Ayres, which I think will touch generous hearts. “I was present, a boy in my first breeches, when my elder brother was sharply called for by our father, a strict disciplinarian with his sons. ‘Mick,’ he cried, ‘bring me your pocket- knife.’ Michael was in consternation, and whispered, ‘What shall I do? I’ve lost my knife.’ ‘Take mine,’ says John Duffy, ’tis the same colour.’ ‘No, no,’ my brother muttered, ‘the blade of my knife was broken, and father will know the difference at a glance.’ Cousin John, without a word spoken, put the blade of his knife under his heel and broke it off. The tears, concluded my friend, ran down my face at the, time, and after sixty years they could run down still when I think of that generous transaction.”

The early death of my brothers seemed to presage mine. In all my nonage, my health was feeble and uncertain, and dyspepsia came so early that it must have been hereditary. I can gauge the sharpness of my dolor by remembering that when literary ambition began to awake, and I had written some chapters of a novel, and some scenes of a play, I confessed that if I had the choice of producing a romance equal to “Ivanhoe” every year, or enjoying tranquil sleep and painless meals, I could scarcely reject the latter blessing. Of the precautions necessary to secure and reclaim health no one had ever spoken to me, and since I arrived at the years of discretion I have constantly insisted that the principles of physiology and the structure of the human body ought to be taught to children at school with more care than the multiplication table. When I was approaching manhood, a young Irishman, returned from the United States, lent me a ‘Journal of Health’ from which I got the first gleam of light on that structure which is so fearfully and wonderfully made. One of the maxims in the ‘Journal’ which I have never forgotten, served me well throughout life – “Keep your head cool, your feet dry, your skin clean, your digestion regular, and a fig for the doctor.”

Charles Hamilton Teeling

When I was nearly eighteen my guardian still treated me as a boy whose duty it was to be silent in the presence of his elders. I had thought a good deal and written a little at this time, chiefly about love and patriotism, I fancy; but I uttered my thoughts to no one except my three friends. But my emancipation came at last. One day a stately, venerable gentleman walked into my mother’s house, and was announced as Charles Hamilton Teeling, and for the first time I saw an historic man, one of the surviving leaders in 1798. He was establishing a newspaper in Belfast, and after some talk invited me to accompany him on a round of calls to promote this object in Monaghan. I took up his project with enthusiasm, for was he not a man who had served under the Green Flag which I had never seen except in dreams? He rewarded me by telling me a hundred things I had longed to know. When we returned to dinner my guardian had arrived, and fell to discussing the newspaper project, but, to his surprise and mine Mr. Teeling insisted on having my opinion on every point debated. He was my first patron, and from that time I was emancipated from the ‘status pupilaris’.

My new friend gave me his “Personal Narrative” of the transactions of 1798. It was the first book dealing frankly with the aims and hopes of Irish Nationalists which I had read, and it thrilled me with a new emotion. Only a generation ago there was an Irish army led by Irish gentlemen, which swept the British forces out of two counties, and might have swept them out of two-and-thirty but for adverse accidents. What men had done, men, with God’s help, might do again – and do better, and if Heaven was propitious I might be there to, see. From that time my mind was largely occupied with speculations and reveries on Ireland. I read all the books I could buy or borrow on the history and condition of the country, and gradually came to understand the epic of Irish resistance to England, often defeated, often renewed, but never wholly relinquished.

Mr. Teeling made his appearance from time to time in Monaghan, and always brought me sympathy and encouragement. But his most effectual service was to invite me to contribute to his journal, the ‘Northern Herald.’ I began timidly to send scraps of prose and verse, which were well received. The paper was edited from London by two law students, who poured out weekly long and sonorous essays on the wants and wrongs of Ireland. I read, admired, and emulated these productions, the ordinary stages in self- discipline. I made vigorous but quite unsuccessful efforts to draw my comrades into this study, and became, I dare say, under this new passion which entirely engrossed me, an intolerable young prig and pedant. But I obtained ideas more or less exact on many public problems, and began studies which were never to be relinquished. The spirit of the ‘Herald’ was the old fraternal spirit of 1798 – the union of Catholics and Protestants for the national cause. The chief contributor was a young Catholic whom I had never seen, but who was destined to be my closest friend through life.(Thomas O’Hagan who became Lord O’Hagan, Lord Chancellor of Ireland) His associate was a Protestant of an old plantation house who, in the end, became a clergyman and relinquished his early opinions; but his comrade believed the change to have been an honest one, and maintained a regard for him to the end.

The fraternal doctrines of 1798 had few friends in Ulster in the first quarter of the present century. The Protestants and Presbyterians had for the most part renounced them, and the Catholics, who were subject to daily insolence and injustice, thought it idle to talk of being embraced as brethren till they were received as equals. Mat Trumble, who cherished the opinions of his grandfather, was still a United Irishman, somewhat modified by his surroundings; and the subject was constantly debated between us. He was impatient of Orange excesses, but more impatient of Catholic retaliation. “Don’t you see,” he would urge, “that to irritate the Northern Protestants is to defeat, or at any rate to postpone, the liberation of the Catholics? You can’t get rid of the Ulster-men, we are fighting fellows with England behind us; and if you could get rid of us it would be a gross injustice, for time settles such disputes as ours, and we have been here two hundred years. Make good Irishmen of us and the battle with England is won. And why not? Thirty years ago we were better Irishmen than any of you, and I assert that we might, could, would, and should become so again. But when an Orangeman is maimed in a Catholic riot the most moderate Protestant in Ulster thrills with sympathy. Like Falkland I cry “Peace, peace, peace!”
“Peace!” I rejoined, “does that mean abject submission to contumely and wrong? I hate party riots as much as you do; but when a riot breaks out I wish with all my heart that the Catholic may have the best of it; for the Orangeman or his sympathisers will never listen to the claims of justice till we prove strong enough to be dangerous. Peace by all means, if we are treated with some approach to fair play; but if the Orangeman breaks the peace, thrash him; that’s my doctrine. Our rights will not come by being submissive, but by being strong.”

Mr. Teeling from time to time urged my guardian to send me to Trinity. College to complete my education; but he would not hear of the project. To obtain the honours and prizes of the only University in Ireland, a student was required to take the Sacrament of the Church of England, and though it is possible that opposition would have operated as it did at school to make me firmer in my religious opinions, and I might have ignored honours and prizes, so many students had succumbed to the temptation that I have never blamed him for refusing.

I read many hours every day at that time. The major duomo of Colonel Westenra, brother of Lord Rossmore, did me the inestimable service of lending me books, one volume at a time, from his master’s library, and I dipped into many new reservoirs of thought. One curious result is worth noting; I read Blackwood’s Magazine’ from the days of the Chaldee Manuscript down to the pasquinades on Peel for granting Catholic Emancipation. The wild drolleries Maginn, the rhapsodies of Wilson, and Lockhart’s letters of Timothy Tickler, which rivalled Cobbett in vigour and Sydney Smith in pungency, gave me infinite enjoyment. But they did not convince or persuade me the least in the world. The constant object of their obloquy was the Cockney school, Hazlitt, Hunt, Lamb, and their associates whom they mauled in every number. But the rabid critics sometimes quoted a passage from the writings they condemned; and I was so fascinated by the spirit of Hazlitt, that a few years later I bought a file of the ‘Examiner’ to become better acquainted with him and his colleague and his portrait hung over my writing-desk for nearly a generation. As evidence, I think, that malice overdone misses its aim.

About this time I was drawn into my first political adventure. An election was on foot in which the son of Lord Rossmore, landlord of the town, was a candidate, against what was called the Liberal Club, practically the Catholic electors. I took the popular side with enthusiasm, wrote one or two election squibs, and canvassed right and left;at any rate I made myself disagreeable to the great man’s agent, at this time a person known as Colonel Lewis, from an imaginary command in a local regiment of militia, which had no existence except on paper. The income of my family arose mainly from the rents of town property, most of which fell out of lease shortly after the election. When the ordinary renewal was demanded the agent announced that he would not continue as tenants a family which reared such a fire-brand, and the houses built or bought by my father were confiscated by the landlord. This peremptory decision started me in life with a lively impression of the land system in Ireland, which in good time bore fruits.

About this time I made my first journey to England to visit my eldest surviving brother, a doctor practising in Liverpool. His illness and death protracted the visit, which extended over a year. A great commercial depot and crowded seaport were phenomena new to me. The great streets, the multitude of comfortably-dressed artisans and sailors and the total absence of beggars made it a land of wonders. The Reform movement, which began in 1830, had not yet spent its force, and public meetings as well as a liberal supply of books furnished me with a crowd of new ideas which I had abundant leisure to digest. After my return to Monaghan I found that my comrades were doing something while I was doing nothing. I was now on the eve of my twentieth year, and I became uneasy and anxious for some decisive change.


An accidental visit to Dublin made me acquainted with a kinsman some years my senior, who was a successful journalist. T. M. Hughes was then in Dublin as a special correspondent of the ‘Morning Chronicle;’ at a later period he became correspondent of the ‘Times’ at Madrid, and published books and edited periodicals which may still be encountered occasionally. (Revelations of Spain; The Ocean Flower, a Poem; The Biliad, a Satire; The London Charevari, a Monthly Magazine.) was charmed with the gay independent life he led. He showed me O’Connell at the Corn Exchange, and Plunket and Bushe at the Four Courts; took me to theatres and public meetings in the evening, and allowed me to browse at intervals of leisure on a harvest of periodicals scattered through his sitting-room, the like of which I had never seen. But above all, the little lectures he gave me over his mahogany on current politics often appeared next morning as a leading article, and I, who dreamed I had something to say, longed for such a marvellous method of communicating with the people. I was fascinated, and determined to become a journalist. My guardian, whom I had accompanied to Dublin, opened negotiations with Michael Staunton, the proprietor of the ‘Morning Register,’ a daily paper founded a dozen years earlier by the Catholic Association. He had no vacancy, but he was willing to take me as a tyro, to be trained in journalism, who could afterwards get employment if he proved fit for it. Early in April, 1836, when I was just twenty years of age, I set out anew for Dublin, my friend, Terence MacManus accompanying me, as he also obtained employment in one of the monster shops which were then beginning to be founded by adventurous Scotsmen; Henry MacManus had preceded us by a few weeks and was now resident in the metropolis, and Mat Trumble had become usher in an English school.

Lord Mulgrave in Monaghan

Before I left Monaghan the monotony of provincial life was interrupted by an event which produced a prodigious clamour in Parliament and the Press, but is now altogether forgotten. It was, however, of genuine, even of historic, importance. The Lord Lieutenant, Lord Mulgrave, made a tour in Ulster, and, for the first time since the capitulation of Limerick, the representative of the Sovereign received Catholics and Protestants on perfectly equal terms. He employed the royal prerogative in favour of prisoners whose term of detention was nearly completed, or whose conduct in prison justified clemency.

This was an unheard-of procedure, and TyrConnell O’Mulgrave, the Orange Press declared, was clearing the jails of convicted rebels, and, in the character of the King’s Viceroy, opening his arms to the scum of society. The gentry held aloof from him, but the Catholics and the more intelligent Liberals thronged his undress levées. As he approached Monaghan the leaders of the Liberal Club voted an address and deputation, and I made my debut in public life as secretary of the movement. The great man of the town, the Provost of a Corporation which had not met for a quarter of a century, could not, as land agent of an Irish Lord angling for a British peerage, altogether withhold his countenance ; but he intimated that he would visit the Viceroy on his own account, and not form part of any deputation. The men we mustered were the local doctor, attorney, woollen-draper, an exceptional farmer or two, and half a dozen priests, headed, or rather heralded, by a hand-some and stately old gentleman, who was a casual visitor to the town at the moment – no other than Charles Hamilton Teeling. Mr. Teeling’s name was a familiar one throughout the North, and it is probable that it was this unwonted spectacle of priest and rebel honouring; the constituted authorities which is commemorated in Colonel Blacker’s contemporary Orange ballad
“Forth starts the spawn of treason, the ‘scaped of ’98,
To bask in courtly favour, and sway the helm of State.
He comes the open rebel fierce, he comes the Jesuit sly,
But put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your powder dry.”

Lord Mulgrave received us as if we came in court suits, and he did wisely, for these men were the leaders of the club which ten years before had opened the county for the first time since the Union, by electing an emancipator against a combination of the gentry and the Government.

This was my formal entry into public affairs. It was on a provincial stage, indeed, but the occasion did not seem a small one to men, some of whom remembered when Ulster Catholics were ordered to betake themselves to hell or Connaught, and the authorities were deaf as stone to their complaints. At any rate it was for me the beginning of work. The era of indolent studies, of perfuming my brain with romances and reviews, was at an end, and the serious business of life had begun. I quoted laughingly to my dear mother the ordinary opening of Folk Lore stories which she was accustomed to tell me.
“Bake me a bonnock, mother, and cut me a collop, I’m going to push my fortune.”


1. In a diary kept in Melbourne half a century later, I find this entry on the same subject: Jimmy Sherry, an Irishman, between seventy and eighty years of age, but in possession of his faculties, and even active and agile, who had been a servant of my grandfather Patrick Gavan fifty years ago called upon me and told me a good deal of family gossip which was new to me. My grandfather leased the townlands of Latnamard and Drumhilla, in the parish of Aughabobg; the lands were two miles square, and he cultivated the greater part of them, employing about forty men, but subletting a portion. His sons, Frank and Michael, were the finest and strongest men that appeared at Monaghan fair, and were, Jimmy asserts with great unction, a terror to the Orangemen. He had another son named Peter, who went to Canada, and had become prosperous there, his son-in-law and descendants named Lane being in a good social position. When the land fell out of lease he was offered a renewal of it for ninety-nine years at 10s. an acre. He declined, and it was afterwards let

2. The Editor of the Chieftan’s Weekly Gazette was M. J. Whitty, who a generation later established the’Liverpool daily Post’ and became father of a man of genius, Edward Whitty, author of the ‘Friends of Bohemia’.

3. There were rustic poems of a national spirit printed from time to time, especially among the weavers of Ulster and the schoolmasters of the South; classes whose sedentary pursuits lent themselves naturally to poetry. I remember a poem entitled “Knight of the Shamrock Plume”, printed in Monaghan, when I was a schoolboy, which described an episode in 1798 in curiously inflated and sonorous verse, modelled on Pope’s Homer, one couplet describing pike-making – which I considered prodigiously fine – I can still recall –
“The busy smiths with unabating care
From hissing bars the shining lance prepare.”

4. Hazlitt was a man whose heart was tortured by the injustice with which the world was governed, and he was proportionately abhorred by all who profit by injustice. Gavan Duffy describes him as a ‘great pioneer of public justice’ and gives the following as an example of how Hazlitt was insulted by others. ‘Christopher North, it may be premised was a nom de plume of the editor of ‘Blackwood’, and the colour of the cover of the journal was olive, whereas that of the Liberal organ, the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ was blue trimmed with yellow:
“Thus saith our Christopher to his gallant crew,
Up with the olive flag down with the blue;
Fire upon Hallam, fire upon Hume,
Fire upon Jeffrey, fire upon Brougham,
Fire upon Sydney, fire upon Moore,
But spit upon Hazlitt
The son……”

William B. McBurney

Aka Carroll Malone. Author: Croppy Boy. From ‘The Young Irelanders, by T. F. O’Sullivan, 1944.

“The Croppy Boy” one of the finest of our ballads, was written by W. B. Burney, a County Down man, who used the pseudonym “Carroll Malone”. It is to be found in most Irish Anthologies with another of his faine poems, “The Good Ship Castle Down”

“The Croppy Boy” appeared in ‘The Nation’ on the 4th January 1845 and was the only poem contributed by that poet to the paper. It was much admired by Thomas Davis and his colleagues, and aroused a good deal of speculation as to the identity of the author, of whose personal history little is known. Shortly after writing this famous poem, McBurney emigrated from Belfast to America, where for some years he wrote poems and sketches for the ‘Boston Pilot’ over the signature of “Carroll Malone”.

I am indebted to Father Hickey, Leeds, one of our best authorities on the Young Ireland period, for some important particulars in reference to this poet, and his connection to the Boston Pilot, which introduced him to its readers on the 17th March 1845, as “William McBurney, of Belfast.” These particulars have never been previously published in Ireland. I give them in full as they are valuable from the biographical point of view.

“During the years, 1845, 1846, 1847 and 1848” Father Hickey states, “appeared from time to time, in the Pilot many of McBirney’s (sic) most brilliant historical and legendary ballads, short stories and sketches, all racy of the soil and redolent in genuine patriotism. The following list of his contributions to the Pilot during the years mentioned:
“July 5th – ‘Irish Emigrant,’ marked ‘original.’ July 25th, ‘Irish Emigrant’ marked ‘original.’ August 25th, ‘Yankee Doodle’ marked ‘original’. September 20th – ‘Orangeman’s Wife’ marked ‘original’. October 11th – ‘Coulin’ marked ‘original.’ November 11th – ‘Croppy Boy.’ Dec 25th, – ‘A Christmas Carol’.

“January 10th – ‘A Fragment on the Death of an Infant,’ George L. McGowan. January 17th, ‘Mary O’ Larey’ February 7th, Song ‘Rise, Emerald Isle.’ March 15th, – ‘The Black Yoke.’ March 21st, Song: ‘The Golden Furze Clusters and Shines,’ marked ‘original.’ May 9th, ‘Lines written in our Poor House,’ Belfast. June 7th, ‘Lines written on a picture of O’Connell.’

January 27th, ‘Sally O’Fagan,’ a tale of the troubles, 1798. July 17th, ‘An Essay on the Educational Character of O’Connell,’ signed H. W. McBurney,’ prose. July 19th, ‘Letter to Mr. J.B. Harvey,’ signed H.W. McBurney. November 6th, ‘Isaac & Haddock,’ an Irish fireside tale. November 27th, and December 5th – ‘The No Popery Lecture,’ a tale of real life.

1848 : June 24th, – Poem: ‘An Irish Keen’

In the Pilot of November 26th, 1845, the following appears: “We observe that our spirited contemporary, the ‘Waterford Chronicle,’ has copied the beautiful poem of our correspondent Carroll Malone, entitled ‘The Orangeman’s Wife’

In the Pilot for November 11th, 1845, I find the following note from the author prefacing a corrected version of ‘The Croppy Boy’:
“To the Editor of the Pilot,
Sir, – The following little piece was inserted in the ‘Nation’ last January, and some alterations were made in it which, though I did not like them, suggested a little more polishing of the verses. As I understand it attracted some attention in Ireland, I shall be glad to bring it out again in it’s most correct form,
Yours most sincerely,
“Carroll Malone””

McBurney died in America in 1892. His famous ballad was once popular at National gatherings, but it is, unfortunately, seldom heard now in Irish circles.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee

Thomas D’Arcy McGee was born in Carlingford, co. Louth on April 13th 1825, the son of James McGee, a coast guard, and of Dorcas Catherine Morgan a Dublin bookseller who took part in the 1798 insurrection. When he was 8 years old they moved to Wexford town and he was educated there. At the age of 17, he emigrated to America and was interested in the Irish Repeal Movement. On 4th July 1842, he gave a speech at a Repeal meeting in Boston, and Daniel O’Connell used to refer to his speeches as “the inspired utterances of a young exiled boy in America.” McGee became editor of the ‘Boston Pilot’.

In 1845, Thomas D’Arcy McGee became London correspondent of the ‘Freeman’s Journal’ and soon afterwards he became the London correspondent of the Irish newspaper ‘The Nation’ and from there, he became leader writer of ‘The Nation’.

Charles Gavan Duffy admired McGees’ skills and describes him in this way:
“The young man was not prepossessing. He had a face of almost African type; his dress was slovenly even for the careless class to which he belonged; he looked unformed and had a manner which at first sight struck me as being too deferential for self-respect. But he had not spoken three sentences in a singularly sweet and flexible voice, till it was plain that he was a man of fertile brains and great originality; a man in whom one might dimly discover rudiments of the orator, poet, statesman, hidden under this ungainly disguise.”

Sir Samuel Ferguson regarded McGee as the most gifted of the Young Ireland poets, and it is by his poetry he will be best remembered. McGee published a large number of historical poems, his earlier poetry was purely national; his later verses were of a religious character. “At a time when his voice was loud in the Parliament of his adopted country in favour of Imperialism,” Martin MacDermott wrote, in the Introduction to the New Spirit of the Nation: “When his pen, in the History of Ireland, could find excuses for Pitt and scarce an execration even for Castlereagh, the poet still yearned with love and longing towards the distant island of his birth.”

McGee was an ardent Young Irelander in his youth but changed his views in later life.

From a lecture he gave in Wexford in 1865 entitled: “Twenty Years Experience of Irish Life in America””You will remember that I spent the years from 1842 to 1845 in the United States, and that I was one of the Young Irelanders in 1848. I am not at all ashamed of Young Ireland – why should I? Politically we were a pack of fools, but we were honest in our folly; and no man need blush at 40 for the faults on one and twenty, unless indeed, he still perseveres in them, having no longer the fair excuse of youth and inexperience.”

He was then the Hon. Thomas D’Arcy McGee, Minister of Agriculture in Canada and on an official visit to Ireland to represent Canada at an International Exhibition in Dublin.

At the meetings of the Repeal Association (pre 1846)and the Irish Confederation, of which he became Secretary, McGee delivered eloquent speeches. At the meeting of the Confederation on the 5th April, 1848, in seconding a resolution proposed by Mitchel (whose policy he had disapproved a few months previously with Smith O’Brien) for the formation of a National Guard, McGee said: –
“I second the resolution proposed by Mr. Mitchel for the enrolment of people because I consider such enrolment will be the best guarantee for life and peace and because I agree with the proposition that liberty is not a commodity that we can import in our ships or bring from France to order. It must, root itself in men’s hearts – it must nerve their arms in action, and their step to take unfalteringly the way to the gallows – it must circulate with the current of their blood, or they are not fully free. Freedom – native freedom, can only be the work of native men. Before this year of 1848 is out, the Irish people, are resolved to obtain that freedom at any cost. If 50,000 Frenchmen should come as allies to Ireland, I will welcome them as brothers and benefactors; if they came with any other object I would meet them as enemies and resist their landing. I support this motion of Mr. Mitchel because it will render foreign aid less necessary to us – because it proposes openly to invite neighbours in a neighbourly alliance, for the defence and assertion of the liberties of this country……. I tell the British Minister from this place (and a small trumpet may utter a great noise) we spurn his triennial Parliament – we spit on his federalism – we want no visits from the Sovereign of the Empire, and none from the Irish Sovereign, except she comes to summon her Irish estates in the Irish capital. I appeal to you, be firm and full of ostentatious courage in this crisis of our fate. Let England be quick – let her offer unconditional Repeal; we will take it and -forgive her.”

McGee was arrested on the 14th July, 1848, for delivering a “seditious” speech in the chapel grounds at Roundwood on the 2nd of that month, and returned for trial to the Wicklow Assises. He was accused of encouraging people to form clubs for the Repeal of the Union, such as those which had been formed Dublin, Cork and Limerick, and which were, ready, when necessity required it to strike a blow on the first opportunity.

He escaped conviction owing to the fact that through some mistake his case did not come before the Grand Jury at the Assizes then sitting, he was then allowed out on bail, and before the Assizes again met he was in America.

McGee wrote in a signed article “The Army of the League” which appeared in ‘The Nation’ on 22nd July, entitled ” The League must know when it is beaten from the halls of argument to the fields of force, and that, I foresee, is not a distant event. But if it will not know this, the people will, nay, do, and the next jury packed in Ireland will be the signal of a revolution which will sweep away every barrier of artifice and every obstacle opposed by power.”

McGee was a member of the War Council, and went to Scotland on a mission to procure recruits, arms and ammunition, and, if possible, to seize some ships on the Clyde and force the crews to bring them to the coast of Sligo for the projected Rising. The mission did not succeed, and he crossed to Ulster, where he was concealed by the Coadjutor-Bishop of Derry (Dr. Edward Maginn – who in 1848 had sent Sir John Gray to Charles Gavan Duffy with a message to the effect that he would take the file at the head of the priests of his diocese, if the insurrection did not take place before the harvest had been reaped.) . When he was in Ulster he met with his wife.

In Scotland he had read his description in the newspaper, ‘Eve and Cry’: “Thomas D’Arcy McGee-Connected with The Nation newspaper; 23 years of age; 5 feet 3 inches in height; black hair; dark face; delicate, pale, thin man; dresses generally black shooting coat, plaid trousers, light vest.” Disguised as a priest, be escaped to America, arriving in Philadelphia on the 10th Oct., 1848, and was befriended by Judge Emmet.

McGee started the ‘New York Nation’, which was devoted to the interests of Ireland. He placed the blame for the failure of the rising in 1848 on the priests and hierarchy, and so gained the disapproval of Archbishop Hughes who was very critical of him.

In 1850, he abandoned the paper which suffered badly in circulation owing to the Archbishop’s criticisms, and started the ‘American Celt’ newspaper in Boston. His political opinions underwent a complete change soon after this and he renounced all his revolutionary ideas. In a letter to Thomas Francis Meagher, McGee stated “that it is the highest duty of a Catholic man to go over cheerfully, heartily and at once, to the side of Christendom – to the Catholic side – and to resist, with all his might, the conspirators, who, under the stolen name of liberty, make war upon all Christian institutions.”

While connected with the Celt, McGee delivered a number of lectures on Irish and Catholic, subjects. He became very unpopular among a large section of the Irish population because of his abandonment of his earlier principles and was denounced as a traitor by the physical force party. He moved his paper to Buffalo, and from there to New York, and, in 1857, he left the country and settled in Canada. He started the ‘New Era’ in Montreal, and became active in politics. Within a year of his arrival in the city he was elected a member of the Legislative Assembly.

Replying to an accusation that he had been a “rebel” in Ireland, he said:-
“It is true I was a rebel in ’48. I rebelled against the misgovernment of my country by (Lord) Russell and his followers. I rebelled because I saw my countrymen starving before my eyes, while my country had her trade and, commerce stolen from her. I rebelled against the Church Establishment in Ireland, and there is not a Liberal man in this community who would not have done as I did, if he were placed in my position, and followed the dictates of humanity.”

He soon attained Cabinet rank, and in both 1862 and 1864 he was President of the Council. He took an active part in the formation of the Dominion of Canada and the federation of the provinces, and came to be regarded as one of the foremost statesmen and orators in the Dominion, to the Parliament of which he was elected as a member for Montreal in 1867, and appointed Minister for Agriculture.

McGee strongly denounced the invasion of Canada, by the Fenians and supported the prosecution of persons disloyal to the Crown In 1867 he visited Paris as a Canadian Commissioner to the Exhibition, and made a tour of the Continent. In the same year, with other members of the Canadian Cabinet, he laid before the British Cabinet in London the plan for the federation of the Canadian provinces.

On the morning of the 7th April, 1868, six days before his 43rd birthday, Thomas D’Arcy McGee was shot dead as he was entering his own house in Ottawa after returning from the Legislature. The Fenians, were accused of having been responsible for his death, and a man named Whelan was executed for it. A public funeral was given to McGee, and provision was made by the State for his widow and children.

McGee wrote a good deal in prose and verse. He contributed two volumes to the Library of Ireland:”Irish Writers of the Seventeenth Century”, and “Memoir of the Life and Conquests of Art MacMurrogh King of Leinster”. He also contributed many articles and numerous poems to The Nation during his residence in Ireland and in America under the pseudonyms “Montanus”; “Amergin”; “Sarsfield”; “Feargail”; “Gilla-Patrick”; “Gilla-Erin”; “M.” “T.D.M” and “An Irish Exile” amongst others.