But, while disunion reigned at the council board of the Catholic Hierarchy, the Government plied their task of seducing, dividing and misrepresenting bishops, priests, people and nation. Out of all the elements of disunion, distraction and disaster over which they in turn gloated, the British newspapers, with wonderful accord, predicted and boasted of the complete overthrow of the Repeal Party. It was amidst these circumstances of gloom and evil augury the year 1844, a year within which range the most startling, extraordinary and trying events of Ireland’s recent history, came to a close.
Before I conclude this chapter, I must revert to a fact which, although unimportant in relation to the view of the question under consideration, deserves to be remembered in connection with future events. The date I cannot fix, as it was confined to the private circle of the Association Committee, and no record of it remains. Immediately after the close of the State trials, as well as I can remember, Mr. O’Connell proposed the dissolution of the Association, with a view of establishing a new body, from which should be excluded all the “illegal” attributes and accidents of the old. The suggestion was resisted by Mr. O’Brien, and all those understood to belong to what was called the Young Ireland Party. They protested against such a course as false, craven and fatal, and Mr. O’Connell at once yielded to their vehement remonstrances.
[Footnote 4: Doctor Cantwell to Mr. O’Connell. Given in the Nation, Vol. III., No. 119.]
FURTHER EMBARRASSMENT CAUSED BY THE RESCRIPT—DIFFERENCES
O’CONNELL AND THE PRIMATE.—FINANCIAL REFORMS IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE
ASSOCIATION, AND CONSEQUENT DISSENSION.—’82 CLUB.—THE COLLEGES
BILL.—DIFFERENCES AND CALUMNIES CONSEQUENT UPON IT. QUARREL WITH MR.
DAVIS.—THE GREAT LEVEE AT THE ROTUNDA.—DECLINE OF THE
AGITATION.—CLOSING LABOURS AND DEATH OF THOMAS DAVIS.
Thus wrote Thomas Davis at the opening of the new year:—
“Hitherto our dangers have been few and transient. The product of mistake or enthusiasm, they were remedied by explanation and kindliness. There are dangers threatened now, and against them we shall try the same prompt and frank policy which never failed us yet. Already the English press are quarrelling for the spoils of the routed Repealers. They are almost unanimous in describing the people as disgusted, the leaders as exhausted, and the policy of the ministers as rapidly levelling the defences of the once great party.
“We do not quail. We remember that whenever the rent has fallen, the same