Through all the stages of O'Connell
's political career, he has never failed to attribute to the union with Great Britain
much of the suffering and degradation of his country.
To a repeal of that Union he alone looked as a remedy for the evils of absenteeism, that canker of the heart, draining away the very springs of her life; the Church
Establishment, with its tithe-proctors and bayonets; the decay of her manufactures and the general prostration of her commercial energies.
Hence, while contending for Catholic emancipation, his enemies justly termed him ‘an agitator with ulterior views.’
‘I toiled,’ said O'Connell
, ‘for Catholic emancipation, only with the repeal as my great and ultimate object.
It was because I saw that it was impossible to bring the people of Ireland
to combine for national independence, until there was an end of unjust political degradation of the great majority and of the unjust political ascendancy of the few.’
Under his directions the people of Ireland
had effectually nullified the tithe system, by refusing, ill common with the Quakers, to pay for the support of a church with whose ministry they had no communion; and when their property was seized, in default of payment, by the tithe-proctor, ‘the odious tithe-proctor,’ as Moore
, in his Captain Rock
, calls him, no Irishman, with one spark of national feeling in his bosom, could be found to purchase it. Yet the Whig
ministry sustained this religious robbery, and, weary of fruitless expostulation with an English Parliament, O'Connell
commenced openly his ‘agitation’ for a repeal of the Union
Here, too, the spirit of Ireland
has been with him.