This is part of a series of posts about the 1841 election rather specifically from an Irish perspective. At the time the letter was written Daniel O’Connell was standing for election as an M.P. in Dublin City. Things changed six days later. “Roche and Barry” are Edmond Burke Roche, and Garrett Standish Barry. Barry was the first Catholic MP elected to represent Cork County after the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, and was elected in 1832. Roche was elected in 1837. Edmond Burke Roche also has the distinction of being Prince Harry’s great, great, great grandfather.
TO THE ELECTORS OF THE COUNTY OF CORK.
Dublin, 6th July, 1841.
” Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow ?”
We have arrived at the most important crisis in the affairs of Ireland. The liberty and the religion of the Irish people are at stake. The question is, whether the Orange miscreants, who have so long plundered our country, and persecuted our people, are to trample upon us again—to outrage our venerated clergy, and to inflict the virulent hostility of their blasphemous scurrility upon the most sacred rites of the Catholic religion.
I am convinced that not one liberal Protestant in the county of Cork will refuse to vote for Roche and Barry. I am convinced that not one Catholic will vote against Roche and Barry. In fact, the Catholic who does not vote for Roche and Barry is a traitor to his country, and a renegade to his religion.
Remember, my friends, that the exterminators have openly avowed themselves. And, although, as in this city, they have felt it prudent to qualify the bitterness of their hostility to the Catholics, yet their designs of destruction are sufficiently manifest, even from the equivocal language which they now choose to employ, instead of an open declaration of vengeance.
There is no scheme too vile — no misrepresentation too atrocious — no cunning trick too dirty or too false — for the Orange Tories of your county to make use of, in order to delude or deceive the people to their own destruction.
Amongst other dirty tricks, the Orange faction in your county have asserted that the ministerial plan on the subject of the cornlaws would be injurious to the farmers. I wish you to understand this subject as well as I do. The ministerial plan which Mr. Roche supports, and which I support, is a fixed duty of eight shillings per quarter upon wheat ; and so in proportion upon other grain.
Now, attend to me, I beg of you, my fellow-countrymen. You know me I never deceived you nor any of you : and I tell you distinctly and emphatically, that of all the plans respecting the cornlaws, the ministerial plan of a fixed duty, which both Roche and Barry will support, is the very best for the farmer ! It is so for this reason ; that at present, rents are charged upon the farmers according to the highest prices that corn can bring ; and a speculation takes place respecting rents, in which, as you well know, the landlords have always the best of it.
The fixed duty gives, on the contrary, a fixed and steady rule of price for corn, and therefore a fixed criterion for rent ; thus giving to the farmer the surplus profits when the corn produces a price higher than in ordinary years..
I am bound to add, that after having investigated this subject with all the care and attention due to it from me, whose great object is the good of all the people—the good of the farmers when it varies from that of the aristocracy or landlords, I am thoroughly and conscientiously convinced that the best plan for all the farmers would be the total abolition of the corn-laws.
But that is not the question at present. The present question lies altogether between the plan of a sliding scale of corn duties and the plan of a fixed duty. This latter is the plan which Lord John Russell and his friends—including Messrs. Barry and Roche—will support.
Remember, my dear friends, that I, who, by counselling the people right, extorted emancipation, and put down Protestant ascendancy, in despite of the Orange aristocrats and landlords, who would now deceive and delude you on the subject of the corn-laws—remember, I say, that I, whom you have honoured with the name of the Liberator,—remember, that I tell you that the plan of a fixed duty, which both Roche and Barry support, is infinitely preferable for the farmers, than the sliding and slippery scale with which Leader and the Orange landlords endeavour to gull and deceive you.
As to Leader [Nicholas Leader, one of the Tory candidates.] himself, he is by birth and fortune a gentleman. If he remained quiet, nobody would refuse to admit him to be such. But in politics he is a shabby and despicable fellow. I knew him when he commenced his political career, and he came out not only a Liberal but really as a Radical ; and he is now endeavouring to represent the county of Cork at the head of all the Orange enemies of the people. Say to him, honest men of the county of Cork, “Shame upon thee, Leader! Shame, where is thy blush?”
Whoever votes for Leader, or for any man of his principles, votes for the extermination of Catholicity ; for the Orange Tories—for the haters of Ireland and the Irish—for the revilers of our clergy—for the blasphemers of our religion Those who refuse to vote for Barry and Roche are equally despicable traitors. They are to be loathed and shunned by every honest man.
Those who vote for Barry and Roche vote for the Queen and her ministers ;—for old Ireland and freedom;—for religion and liberty.
Recollect that the faction to which Leader has now attached himself is that which, by the most atrocious treachery, enacted the penal laws against the Catholics ; which set the same price—that is, £5.—upon the head of a wolf and the head of a priest ; which proscribed Catholic education ; which would still employ education for the purposes of trickery and exclusive proselytism.
Leader’s faction is the faction that has proclaimed in the city of Dublin the uprooting of Catholicity ; which seeks the restoration of Protestant ascendancy and Orange domination.
Leader’s faction call your priests ” surpliced ruffians “ and ” anointed vagabonds.”
Leader’s faction call the holy sacrifice of the mass ” mummery.” They call the Catholic religion an “abject superstition” and a “vile idolatry.”
Liberal Protestants of the county of Cork—and you especially, Catholic electors—shall there be found amongst you any man so thoroughly a traitor and a renegade as to give a single vote to Leader, or to the faction to which he belongs ?
Will any of you refuse to vote against the Orange faction, and in favour of my excellent and beloved friend, Edmund Roche, and of his esteemed colleague, Standish Barry ?
Let every man, then, who confides in me, who is ready to take my honest advice—let every liberal Protestant, and let every conscientious Catholic, vote for the religious liberty of Old Ireland.
That is let him record his vote for Roche and Barry.
I am, beloved countrymen, your faithful and devoted servant,