While persons who affected to be in his confidence were amazed at this step, the Government regarded it as an evidence of purpose which it was indispensable at once to check. They saw that their opponents had formerly menaced and coerced in vain, and they determined to proscribe. Accordingly the newly appointed viceroy, Lord Ebrington, being waited on by the Dublin Corporation with some address of congratulation, delivered them a lecture on the disloyalty of the Corn Exchange, and announced his purpose never to employ in the service of the Government any one who frequented that pestilent locality. The corporation returned abashed to their council-rooms to record the viceregal threat. But from end to end of the land rose one shout of indignant defiance. Suspicion, doubt and hesitation gave way to the taunt involved in the insolent challenge. The ranks of the Association were filled, and its treasury replenished; and the viceroy soon discovered how little was to be gained by a vulgar appeal to the meanest passion when it was addressed to the Irish people.
[Footnote 3: Mr. Feargus O’Connor, afterwards leader of the English Chartists.—Ed]
THOMAS DAVIS, HIS EARLY LABOURS.—THE “NATION” NEWSPAPER.—PROGRESS OF THE ASSOCIATION.—CLONTARF MEETING.—THE STATE TRIALS.—THE YOUNG IRELAND PARTY.—SMITH O’BRIEN.—FEDERALISM.—THE BEQUEST ACT.
Even before this great occasion, gifted spirits were insensibly moulding the character and destiny of the Association. The hurried but firm step of a pale student of Trinity College might be daily seen pacing the unfrequented flagways that led to the Corn Exchange. His penetrating glance, half shrouded by its own shyness, his face averted from the crowd, and his mind turned within, he would come, and sit, and hear, and suppress the emotions that swelled his proud young heart as he caught glimpses of a bright future for his country. He had the richest store of practical knowledge, an imagination fruitful as a sunny clime: faith, hope and courage boundless as immortal love. That he could realise all things which came within the scope of his own fond yearnings, he had no doubt. But most of the men with whom he took his place were stinted in acquirements, and not over-gifted in intellect, and had no conception or ambition beyond admiring or applauding the behests of one predominant and controlling will. With the passionate aspirations of the young student they felt no kindred sympathies. In their hands, political action, for whatever end, sank into a traffic or parade. Even with such materials he determined to work out his country’s redemption, though already satisfied that before such a thing were possible, their habits, feelings, passions and hearts should be entirely changed. In order to do this, it was necessary he should stoop to the level