It was at this moment, when the cloud came down close to earth, that O'Connell, then a young lawyer just admitted to the bar, flung himself in front of his countrymen, and begged them to make one grand effort. The hierarchy of the Church disowned him. They said, “We have seen every attempt lead always up to the scaffold; we are not willing to risk another effort.” The peerage of the Island repudiated him. They said, “We have struggled and bled for a half-dozen centuries; it is better to sit down content.” Alone, a young man, without office, without wealth, without renown, he flung himself in front of the people, and asked for a new effort. What was the power left him? Simply the people,--poverty-stricken, broken-hearted peasants, standing on a soil soaked with the blood of their ancestors, cowering under a code of which Brougham said that “they could not lift their hands without breaking it.” It was a community impoverished by five centuries of oppression,--four millions of Catholics robbed of every acre of their native land; it was an island torn by race-hatred and religious bigotry, her priests indifferent, and her nobles
Thou art chained to the wheel of the foe by links which a world cannot sever:
With thy tyrant through storm and through calm thou shall go, and thy sentence is bondage forever.
Thou art doomed for the thankless to toil, thou art left for the proud to disdain:
And the blood of thy sons and the wealth of thy soil shall be lavished and lavished in vain.
Thy riches with taunts shall be taken, thy valor with coldness be paid;
And of millions who see thee thus sunk and forsaken not one shall forth in thine aid.
In the nations thy place is left void; thou art lost in the list of the free;
Even realms by the plague and the earthquake destroyed may revive, but no hope is for thee.
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