Daniel O'Connell (Irish language: Dónal Ó Conaill; 6 August 1775 – 15 May 1847), hailed in his time as The Liberator, was the acknowledged political leader of Ireland's Roman Catholic majority in the first half of the 19th century. His mobilisation of Catholic Ireland through to the poorest class of tenant farmer helped secure Catholic emancipation in 1829 and allowed him to take a seat in the United Kingdom Parliament to which he had twice been elected.
- I have finished Godwin. His work [Enquiry Concerning Political Justice] cannot be too highly praised. All mankind are indebted to the author. The cause of despotism never met a more formidable adversary. He goes to the root of every evil that now plagues man and degrades him almost beneath the savage beast. He shows the source whence all the misfortunes of mankind flow. That source he demonstrates to be political government.
- Journal entry (30 January 1796), quoted in Arthur Houston, Daniel O'Connell: His Early Life, and Journal, 1795 to 1802 (1906), pp. 119-120
- I love, from my heart I love, liberty. I do not express myself properly. Liberty is in my bosom less a principle than a passion. But I know that the victories of the French would be attended with bad consequences. The Irish people are not yet sufficiently enlightened to be able to bear the sun of freedom. Freedom would soon dwindle into licentiousness. They would rob; they would murder. The altar of liberty totters when it is cemented only with blood, when it is supported only with carcases. The liberty which I look for is that which would increase the happiness of mankind. In the service of this liberty I have devoted my life and whatever portion of talents I may have or acquire.
- Journal entry during the French expedition to Ireland (29 December 1796), quoted in Arthur Houston, Daniel O'Connell: His Early Life, and Journal, 1795 to 1802 (1906), p. 155
- I feel, I really feel, the sacred and mild warmth of true patriotism. I will endeavour to make the narrow circle of my friends happy, I will endeavour to give cheerfulness and ease to the peasantry over whom I may command, I will endeavour to give liberty to my country, and I will endeavour to increase the portion of the knowledge and virtue of humankind.
- Journal entry (7 January 1797), quoted in Arthur Houston, Daniel O'Connell: His Early Life, and Journal, 1795 to 1802 (1906), p. 174
- We talked some pure, because moderate, democracy. Hail, Liberty! How cheering is thy name! How happy should mankind be if thou wast universally diffused! Strange it might appear that thou shouldst be hateful to any. But thou art calumniated, as thou art disgraced by the nominal advocates. The interested, those who grow fat on the miseries of mankind, the tyrant, and the demagogue condemn thee. The one raises his voice aloud and is heard in the public places to declaim against thee; the other more effectually damns thee by his support.
- Journal entry (22 January 1797), quoted in Arthur Houston, Daniel O'Connell: His Early Life, and Journal, 1795 to 1802 (1906), p. 184
- Moderation is the character of genuine patriotism, of that patriotism which seeks for the happiness of mankind. There is another species which is caused by hatred of oppression. This is a passion. The other is a principle.
- Journal entry (28 January 1797), quoted in Arthur Houston, Daniel O'Connell: His Early Life, and Journal, 1795 to 1802 (1906), p. 193
- I love liberty as conducive to increase the portion of human happiness. A great deal of the misery of man can clearly be derived from the form of government under which he lives. Oppression harasses his faculties. Privilege confined by accident insults his understanding.
- Journal entry (24 March 1797), quoted in Arthur Houston, Daniel O'Connell: His Early Life, and Journal, 1795 to 1802 (1906), p. 211
- Good God! what a brute man becomes when ignorant and oppressed! Oh, Liberty, what horrors are perpetrated in thy name! May every virtuous revolutionist remember the horrors of Wexford!
- Journal entry referring to the recent 1798 Irish Rebellion (2 January 1799), quoted in Arthur Houston, Daniel O'Connell: His Early Life, and Journal, 1795 to 1802 (1906), p. 236
- Let us show to Ireland that we have nothing in view but her good; nothing in our hearts but the desire of mutual forgiveness, mutual toleration, and mutual affection; in fine, let every man who feels with me proclaim that if the alternative were offered him of union, or the re-enactment of the penal code in all its pristine horrors, that he would prefer without hesitation the latter, as the lesser and more sufferable evil; that he would rather confide in the justice of his brethren, the Protestants of Ireland, who have already liberated him, than lay his country at the feet of foreigners.
- Speech at the Royal Exchange, Dublin, against the union with Great Britain (13 January 1800), quoted in The Select Speeches of Daniel O'Connell, M.P., Vol. I, ed. John O'Connell (1868), p. 9
- It is to be found at once in the religious dissensions which the enemies of Ireland have created, and continued, and seek to perpetuate amongst ourselves, by telling us of, and separating us into wretched sections and miserable subdivisions; they separated the Protestant from the Catholic, and the Presbyterian from both; they revived every antiquated cause of domestic animosity, and they invented new pretexts of rancour; but above all, my countrymen, they belied and calumniated us to each other—they falsely declared that we hated each other, and they continued to repeat the assertion, until we came to believe it; they succeeded in producing all the madness of party and religious distinctions; and whilst we were lost in the stupor of insanity, they plundered us of our country, and left us to recover at our leisure from the horrid delusion into which we had been so artfully conducted.
- Speech at the Royal Exchange, Dublin (18 September 1810), quoted in The Select Speeches of Daniel O'Connell, M.P., Vol. I, ed. John O'Connell (1868), pp. 20-21
- The Protestant alone could not expect to liberate his country—the Roman Catholic alone could not do it—neither could the Presbyterian—but amalgamate the three into the Irishman, and the Union is repealed. Learn discretion from your enemies—they have crushed your country by fomenting religious discord—serve her by abandoning it for ever. Let each man give up his share of the mischief—let each man forsake every feeling of rancour. But, I say not this to barter with you, my countrymen—I require no equivalent from you—whatever course you shall take, my mind is fixed—I trample under foot the Catholic claims, if they can interfere with the Repeal; I abandon all wish for emancipation, if it delays that Repeal. Nay, were Mr. Perceval, to-morrow, to offer me the Repeal of the Union, upon the terms of re-enactment the entire penal code, I declare it from my heart, and in the presence of my God, that I would most cheerfully embrace his offer.
- Speech at the Royal Exchange, Dublin (18 September 1810), quoted in The Select Speeches of Daniel O'Connell, M.P., Vol. I, ed. John O'Connell (1868), pp. 23-24
- Let us then, my beloved countrymen, sacrifice our wicked and groundless animosities on the altar of our country...let us rally round the standard of Old Ireland, and we shall easily procure that greatest of political blessings, an Irish King, an Irish House of Lords, and an Irish House of Commons.
- Speech at the Royal Exchange, Dublin (18 September 1810), quoted in The Select Speeches of Daniel O'Connell, M.P., Vol. I, ed. John O'Connell (1868), p. 24
- My days – the blossom of my youth and the flower of my manhood – have been darkened by the dreariness of servitude. In this my native land – in the land of my sires – I am degraded without fault as an alien and an outcast.
- July 1812, aged 37, reflecting on the failure to secure equal rights or Catholic Emancipation for Catholics in Ireland. Quoted in J O'Connell (ed.), The Life and Speeches of Daniel O'Connell, Vol. I (1846), p. 185
- Recollect...that...you were certain of having, as president of this commission, that ludicrous enemy of ours, who has got, in jest, the names he deserves in good earnest, of "Orange Peel." (Hear, hear.) A raw youth, squeezed out of the workings of I know not what factory in England, who began his parliamentary career by vindicating the gratuitous destruction of our brave soldiers in the murderous expedition to Walcheren, and was sent over here before he got rid of the foppery of perfumed handkerchiefs and thin shoes, upon the ground, I suppose, that he had given a specimen of his talents for vindication, that might be useful to the present and future administrations of Ireland; in short, that he was a lad ready to vindicate anything—everything!
- Speech to the Catholic Board (29 May 1813), quoted in The Select Speeches of Daniel O'Connell, M.P., Vol. I, ed. John O'Connell (1868), p. 166
- Your enemies say—and let them say it—that I wish for a separation between England and Ireland. The charge is false; it is, to use a modern quotation, as "false as hell!" And the men who originated, and those who seek to inculcate it, know it to be a falsehood. There lives not a man less desirous of a separation between the two countries—there lives not a man more deeply convinced, that the connection between them, established upon the basis of one king and separate parliaments, would be of the utmost value to the peace and happiness of both countries, and to the liberties of the civilized world.
- Speech (29 June 1813), quoted in The Select Speeches of Daniel O'Connell, M.P., Vol. I, ed. John O'Connell (1868), p. 214
- Next, your enemies accuse me of a desire for the independence of Ireland. I admit the charge, and let them make the most of it. I have seen Ireland a kingdom; I reproach myself with having lived to behold her a province! Yes, I confess it—I will ever be candid upon the subject—I have an ulterior object—The Repeal of the Union, and the restoration to Old Ireland of her Independence. (Loud and repeated cheering, and acclamations for several minutes.)
- Speech (29 June 1813), quoted in The Select Speeches of Daniel O'Connell, M.P., Vol. I, ed. John O'Connell (1868), pp. 214-215
- Ireland lay in torpor till roused by the call for religious liberty. She would, I fear and I am convinced, have relapsed into apathy if liberty of conscience had been speedily conceded. Let them delay Emancipation but yet a little while, and they will find that they have roused the sleeping lion of Ireland to awaking activity, which will not permit our further slumber till Ireland is herself again. (Loud applause.)
- Speech (29 June 1813), quoted in The Select Speeches of Daniel O'Connell, M.P., Vol. I, ed. John O'Connell (1868), p. 215
- I am most deeply anxious to impress upon the minds and understandings of every true Irishman, that disloyalty to his sovereign would be double treason to his country; it would be perjury, aggravated by folly, and followed by the eternal extinction of the liberties of Ireland. And what prospect could there possibly be of aught besides destruction? ... For myself, I will tell you honestly, that if ever that fatal day arrive, you will find me arrayed against you. There will not be so heavy a heart; but there will not be a more ready hand to sustain the constitution against every enemy!
- Speech (29 June 1813), quoted in The Select Speeches of Daniel O'Connell, M.P., Vol. I, ed. John O'Connell (1868), pp. 216-217
- Our enemies have long duped the people of England—indeed, that was not difficult; so dishonest and besotted a people as the English never lived. (Loud cheers.) Yes; they are dishonest and besotted! Individuals—many individuals, and classes amongst them, I respect and reverence; but as a nation, I must say, and I can prove it, that they are most profligate and quite lost in folly.
- Speech (29 June 1813), quoted in The Select Speeches of Daniel O'Connell, M.P., Vol. I, ed. John O'Connell (1868), p. 218
- The combination of national action—all Catholic Ireland acting as one man—must necessarily have a powerful effect on the minds of the Ministry and of the entire British nation. A people who can be thus brought to act together, and by one impulse, are too powerful to be neglected and too formidable to be long opposed.
- Letter to Bishop Doyle (29 December 1827), quoted in Correspondence of Daniel O'Connell, The Liberator, Vol. I, ed. W. J. Fitzpatrick (1888), p. 151
- The oath at present required by law is, "That the sacrifice of the mass, and the invocation of the blessed Virgin Mary, and other saints, as now practised in the Church of Rome, are impious and idolatrous." Of course I will never stain my soul with such an oath: I leave that to my honourable opponent, Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald. He has often taken that horrible oath; he is ready to take it again, and asks your votes, to enable him so to swear. I would rather be torn limb from limb than take it... Return me to parliament, and it is probable that such blasphemous oath will be abolished for ever.
- Electoral address for the Clare by-election (June 1828), quoted in Correspondence of Daniel O'Connell, The Liberator, Vol. I, ed. W. J. Fitzpatrick (1888), pp. 157-158
- Electors of the County Clare! choose between me and Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald; choose between him who has so long cultivated his own interests, and one who seeks only to advance yours; choose between the sworn libeller of the Catholic faith, and one who has devoted his early life to your cause; who has consumed his manhood in a struggle for your liberties, and who has ever lived, and is ready to die for, the integrity, the honour, the purity, of the Catholic faith, and the promotion of Irish freedom and happiness.
- Electoral address for the Clare by-election (June 1828), quoted in Correspondence of Daniel O'Connell, The Liberator, Vol. I, ed. W. J. Fitzpatrick (1888), p. 159
- What I now say I wish to reach England, and I ask, What is to be done with Ireland? What is to be done with the Catholics? One of two things. They must either crush us or conciliate us. There is no going on as we are; there is nothing so dangerous as going on as we are.
- I say now, all all, shall be pardoned, forgiven, forgotten, upon giving us Emancipation, unconditional, unqualified, free, and unshackled.
- Speech after his by-election victory delivered to the Catholic Association in the Corn Exchange, Dublin (10 July 1828), quoted in Michael MacDonagh, The Life of Daniel O'Connell (1903), p. 166
- If I get into the House, Catholic Education will have an unremitting and sincere advocate.
- Letter to Bishop Doyle (4 February 1829), quoted in Correspondence of Daniel O'Connell, The Liberator, Vol. I, ed. W. J. Fitzpatrick (1888), pp. 171-172
- It is one of the greatest triumphs recorded in history—a bloodless revolution more extensive in its operation than any other political change that could take place. I say political to contrast it with social changes which might break to pieces the framework of society.
This is a good beginning, and now, if I can get Catholics and Protestants to join, something solid and substantial may be done for all.
It is clear that, without gross mismanagement, it will be impossible to allow misgovernment any longer in Ireland. It will not be my fault if there be not a 'Society for the Improvement of Ireland,' or something else of that description, to watch over the rising liberties of Ireland.
- Letter to James Sugrue after the Roman Catholic Relief Act received the Royal Assent (14 April 1829), quoted in Correspondence of Daniel O'Connell, The Liberator, Vol. I, ed. W. J. Fitzpatrick (1888), pp. 180-181
- I contribute with pleasure my mite to the curiosities of your album. I wish I could call to recollection, in order to furnish you with something original, the speech I made on giving the memory of Washington at our dinner on the lake of Killarney. I only recollect that the conclusion of it was much cheered. Did it not convey this idea? "He found his native land a pitiful province of England. He left her—Oh Glorious destiny!—an independent and mighty nation."
- Letter to John Howard Payne (22 May 1829), quoted in The Correspondence of Daniel O'Connell, Volume IV, ed. Maurice R. O'Connell (1972), pp. 70-71
- Benefactor of the Human Race,—I avowed myself on the hustings this day to be a ‘Benthamite,’ and explained the leading principles of your disciples—the ‘greatest happiness principle’—our sect will prosper.
I begin my parliamentary career by tendering you my constant, zealous, and active services in the promotion of that principle. You have now one Member of Parliament your own.
- Letter to Jeremy Bentham (30 July 1829), quoted in The Works of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. XI (1843), p. 20
- Ireland has claims on your ancient race, as it is the only Christian country that I know of unsullied by any one act of persecution of the Jews.
- Letter to Isaac Goldsmid (11 September 1829), quoted in Lionel Abrahams, 'Sir I. L. Goldsmid and the Admission of the Jews of England to Parliament', Transactions (Jewish Historical Society of England), Vol. 4 (1899–1901), p. 151
- I entirely agree with you on the principle of freedom of conscience, and no man can admit that sacred principle without extending it equally to the Jew as to the Christian. To my mind it is an eternal and universal truth that we are responsible to God alone for our religious belief—and that human laws are impious when they attempt to control the exercise of those acts of individual and general devotion which such belief requires. I think not lightly of the awful responsibility of rejecting true belief—but that responsibility is entirely between man and his Creator, and any fellow-being who usurps dominion over belief is to my mind a blasphemer against the Deity, as he certainly is a tyrant over his fellow-creatures. With these sentiments you will find me the constant and active friend to every measure which tends to give the Jews an equality of civil rights with all other the King's subjects—a perfect unconditional equality. I think every day a day of injustice until that civil equality is attained by the Jews.
- Letter to Isaac Goldsmid (11 September 1829), quoted in Lionel Abrahams, 'Sir I. L. Goldsmid and the Admission of the Jews of England to Parliament', Transactions (Jewish Historical Society of England), Vol. 4 (1899–1901), pp. 151-152
- You must, I repeat, force your question on the Parliament. You ought not to confide in English liberality. It is a plant not genial to the British soil. It must be forced. It requires a hot-bed. The English were always persecutors. Before the so-styled Reformation the English tortured the Jews and strung up in scores the Lollards. After that Reformation they still roasted the Jews and hung the Papists. In Mary's days the English with their usual cruelty retaliated the tortures on the Protestants. After her short reign there were near two centuries of the most barbarous and unrelenting cruelty exercised towards the Catholics, a cruelty the more emaciating because it was sought to be justified by imputing to them tenets and opinions which they always rejected and abhorred. The Jews too suffered in the same way. I once more repeat, Do not confide in any liberality but that which you will yourself rouse into action and compel into operation.
- Letter to Isaac Goldsmid (11 September 1829), quoted in Lionel Abrahams, 'Sir I. L. Goldsmid and the Admission of the Jews of England to Parliament', Transactions (Jewish Historical Society of England), Vol. 4 (1899–1901), p. 152
- No person knows better than you do that the domination of England is the sole and blighting curse of this country. It is the incubus that sits on our energies, stops the pulsation of the nation’s heart and leaves to Ireland not gay vitality but horrid the convulsions of a troubled dream.
- Letter to Bishop Doyle (1831), quoted in O’Connell Correspondence, Vol IV, Letter No. 1860
- At Taunton this miscreant had the audacity to style me an incendiary! Why, I was a greater incendiary in 1831 than I am at present, if I ever were one; and if I am, he is doubly so, for having employed me. Then he calls me a traitor. My answer to that is, he is a liar. He is a liar in action and in words. His life is a living lie. He is a disgrace to his species. What taste of society must that be that could tolerate such a creature, having the audacity to come forward with one set of principles at one time, and obtain political assistance by reason of those principles, and at another to profess diametrically the reverse? His life, I say again, is a living lie. He is the most degraded of his species and kind, and England is degraded in tolerating, or having upon the face of her society a miscreant of his abominable, foul, and atrocious nature. My language is harsh, and I owe an apology for it; but I will tell you why I owe that apology: it is for this reason, that if there be harsher terms in the British language I should use them, because it is the harshest of all terms that would be descriptive of a wretch of his species. He possesses just the qualities of the impenitent thief who died upon the cross, whose name, I verily believe, must have been D'Israeli. For aught I know, the present D'Israeli is descended from him, and with the impression that he is, I now forgive the heir-at-law of the blasphemous thief who died upon the cross.
- Speech to the Dublin Franchise Association at the Corn Exchange (2 May 1835), quoted in Michael MacDonagh, The Life of Daniel O'Connell (1903), p. 250
- There is an utter ignorance of, and indifference to, our sufferings and privations… What care they for us, provided we be submissive, pay the taxes, furnish recruits for the Army and Navy and bless the masters who either despise or oppress or combine both? The apathy that exists respecting Ireland is worse than the national antipathy they bear us.
- Letter to T.M. Ray (1839) on English attitudes to Ireland, quoted in O’Connell Correspondence, Vol VI, Letter No. 2588
- I am most thoroughly convinced that the Repeal alone can keep secure the religion and the liberties of the Irish people.
- Letter to Archbishop MacHale (30 July 1840), quoted in Correspondence of Daniel O'Connell, The Liberator, Vol. II, ed. W. J. Fitzpatrick (1888), p. 247
- Allow me, I pray you, to use the familiarity of a brother-Repealer in addressing you as if we were long acquainted, for, indeed, who ever joins in the struggle to make our beloved fatherland a nation again is dear to me.
- Letter to Captain Seaver (14 April 1843), quoted in Correspondence of Daniel O'Connell, The Liberator, Vol. II, ed. W. J. Fitzpatrick (1888), p. 301
- So soon as Protestants of all sects combine to obtain our legislative independence the utmost cordiality will prevail, as in 1782, between all Irishmen, and we will be able to make the mighty change with perfect safety to person and property, and to the continuance of the connection between the two countries.
- Letter to Captain Seaver (14 April 1843), quoted in Correspondence of Daniel O'Connell, The Liberator, Vol. II, ed. W. J. Fitzpatrick (1888), p. 302 and William Edward Harpole Lecky, Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland, Vol. II (1903 ed.), p. 243
- I want to make all Europe and America know it – I want to make England feel her weakness if she refuses to give the justice we the Irish require – the restoration of our domestic parliament...
- Speech given at a ‘monster’ meeting held at Drogheda (June 1843)
- The principle of my political life … is, that all ameliorations and improvements in political institutions can be obtained by persevering in a perfectly peaceable and legal course, and cannot be obtained by forcible means, or if they could be got by forcible means, such means create more evils than they cure, and leave the country worse than they found it.
- Article in The Nation (18 November 1843)
- From the day when first I entered the arena of politics until the present hour, I have never neglected an opportunity of impressing upon the minds of my fellow-countrymen the fact, that I was an apostle of that political sect who held that liberty was only to be attained under such agencies as were strictly consistent with the law and the constitution—that freedom was to be attained, not by the effusion of human blood, but by the constitutional combination of good and wise men; by perseverance in the courses of tranquillity and good order, and by an utter abhorrence of violence and bloodshed. It is my proudest boast, that throughout a long and eventful life, I have faithfully devoted myself to the promulgation of that principle, and, without vanity, I can assert, that I am the first public man who ever proclaimed it... I have preached under every contingency, and I have again and again declared my intention to abandon the cause of repeal if a single drop of human blood were shed by those who advocated the measure. I made the same principle the basis for the movement in favour of Catholic emancipation; and it was by a rigid adherence to that principle that I conducted the movement to a glorious and triumphant issue. It is my boast that Catholic emancipation, and every achievement of my political life was obtained without violence and bloodshed.
- Speech at his trial (January 1844), quoted in Shaw's Authenticated Report of the Irish State Trials (1844), p. 479
- I believe that religion ought to be the basis of education; and I came over from Ireland for no other purpose than humbly to represent the necessity of making religion the basis of education, to establish it not only as a part, but an essential part of it.
- Speech in the House of Commons (16 June 1845)
- The people of England will not sanction this scheme of godless education, and you must introduce religion into your system, or it will not be received by the people of Ireland. The Irish are essentially a religious people. Infidelity is unknown in Ireland. Act manfully, therefore—make religion the basis of your proceedings, and fear not. By so doing you will have a better prospect before you—you will have the protection of a higher Power if you adopt proper principles as the foundation of your scheme; but do not flatter yourselves with the idea that you are doing anything conciliating to Ireland if, in a matter of this kind, you exclude religion from your consideration. Let there be Presbyterianism for the Presbyterian, Protestantism for the Protestant, and Catholicism for the Catholic. I want nothing for the Catholic which I am not ready to assert for others. Let there be fair play and justice to all.
- Speech in the House of Commons (23 June 1845)
- Gentlemen, you may soon have the alternative to live as slaves or die as free men
- from his speech in Mallow, County Cork
- How cruel the Penal Laws are which exclude me from a fair trial with men whom I look upon as so much my inferiors...
- O’Connell’s Correspondence, Letter No 700, Vol II
- No man was ever a good soldier but the man who goes into the battle determined to conquer, or not to come back from the battle field (cheers). No other principle makes a good soldier.
- O’Connell recalling the spirited conduct of the Irish soldiers in Wellington’s army, at the Monster meeting held at Mullaghmast. Envoi, Taking Leave of Roy Foster, by Brendan Clifford and Julianne Herlihy, Aubane Historical Society, Cork.pg 16
- England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity
- Quoted in Speake, Jennifer; Simpson, J. A. (2015). The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs. Oxford University Press. p. 92. ISBN 9780198734901.
- I was maddened when I heard the bells of St. Patrick's ringing out a joyful peal for Ireland's degradation, as if it was a glorious national festival. My blood boiled, and I vowed, on that morning, that the foul dishonour should not last, if I could ever put an end to it.
- Remarks to William Joseph O'Neill Daunt recalling the enactment of the union with Great Britain on 1 January 1801, quoted in William Joseph O'Neill Daunt, Personal Recollections of the Late Daniel O'Connell, M.P., Vol. I (1848), p. 203
- What care I for the vagabonds if they were twice as powerful? I would rather have one Irish landed proprietor of weight than all their slave-breeders. It is ourselves alone must work out Repeal.
- Remarks regarding American money and support for Repeal of the Union after he was told that his anti-slavery views were unpopular in the United States, quoted in Michael MacDonagh, The Life of Daniel O'Connell (1903), p. 308
- One day I was walking through London with Tom Campbell the poet, when we met a negro, who took off his hat and begged to thank me for my efforts against slavery. Campbell's poetic fancy was smitten, and he exclaimed with great fervour: "I'd rather receive such a tribute as that than have all the crowned heads of Europe making bows to me."
- Remarks quoted in Michael MacDonagh, The Life of Daniel O'Connell (1903), p. 308
- And now I make this declaration—that if the Repeal of the Union depended upon my change of opinion, or the suppression of my sentiments with respect to the slavery of the negro, I would neither change the one nor suppress the other. I am not bound to look to consequences in a matter of principle like this, and this, therefore, I do say, that, come what may, I shall never cease to pour out my entire heart and soul in reprobating and in calling down the curses of mankind upon that vile system.
- Remarks quoted in Michael MacDonagh, The Life of Daniel O'Connell (1903), p. 308
Quotes about Daniel O'Connell
- This man, O'Connell, is the hired instrument of the Papacy; as such, his mission is to destroy your Protestant Society, and, as such, he is a more terrible enemy to England than Napoleon, with all his inspiration. Your empire and your liberties are in more danger at this moment than when the army of invasion was encamped at Boulogne.
- Benjamin Disraeli, 'Letter VIII. to the People' (2 February 1836), The Letters of Runnymede (1836), p. 72
- Now we have a precise idea of the political character of O'Connell. And I have often marvelled when I have listened to those who have denounced his hypocrisy or admired his skill, when they have read of the triumphant demagogue humbling himself in the mud before a simple priest. There was no hypocrisy in this, no craft. The agent recognised his principal, the slave bowed before his lord; and when he pressed to his lips those sacred robes, reeking with whisky and redolent of incense, I doubt not that his soul was filled at the same time with unaffected awe and devout gratitude.
- Benjamin Disraeli, 'Letter VIII. to the People' (2 February 1836), The Letters of Runnymede (1836), pp. 72-73
- If O'Connell appear regardless of truth and justice in his persecutions of the Protestants, let them recollect what must have been the feelings naturally excited in his soul by the laws to which he was subjected in the earlier part of his life. With talents which he must have felt sufficient to raise him to eminence in his profession, or to enable him to act an important part in the grand theatre of politics, he found himself precluded by our Protestant institutions from all hope of attaining the rank and honours which are the legitimate rewards of success in his profession, and condemned to pass his life in the drudgery of a stuff-gown lawyer. In politics his religion opposed an equal obstacle to his advancement. He could not even have become a member of the House of Commons, although thousands of his countrymen were anxious to elect him. Even those who may be disposed to defend those restrictions as necessary for the protection of our Protestant institutions, will at least admit that they were not calculated to excite any kind feeling towards those institutions in the breasts of those who suffered by them. Those restrictions have, it is true, been removed; but Mr. O'Connell was fifty-six years of age when that removal took place, and at such an the character of any man is not easily altered; and we should not be surprised that his hatred towards Protestants still remains in undiminished force.
- Dublin University Magazine, No. LXXIX, Vol. XIV (July 1839), pp. 113-114
- It is, however, a misnomer to call him a demagogue. If I may coin a word for the occasion, he was an ethnagogue. He was not the leader either of plebs or populus against optimates: he was the leader of a nation; and this nation, weak, outnumbered, and despised, he led, not always unsuccessfully, in its controversy with another nation, the strongest perhaps and the proudest in Europe.
- William Ewart Gladstone, 'Daniel O'Connell', The Nineteenth Century, No. CXLIII (January 1889), p. 152
- He was an Irishman, but he was also a cosmopolite. I remember personally how, in the first session of my parliamentary life , he poured out his wit, his pathos, and his earnestness, in the cause of negro emancipation. Having adopted the political creed of Liberalism he was as thorough an English liberal, as if he had had no Ireland to think of. He had energies to spare for Law Reform, Postal Reform (a question of which he probably was one of few to discern at the time the greatness), for secret voting, for Corn Law Repeal, in short for whatever tended, within the political sphere, to advance human happiness and freedom.
- William Ewart Gladstone, 'Daniel O'Connell', The Nineteenth Century, No. CXLIII (January 1889), pp. 156-157
- Huskisson made a shabby speech enough, O'Connell his début, and a successful one, heard with profound attention; his manner good and his arguments attended and replied to.
- Charles Greville, journal entry (5 February 1830), quoted in The Greville Memoirs: A Journal of the Reigns of King George IV. and King William IV., Volume I, ed. Henry Reeve (1874), p. 275
- Utterly lost to all sense of shame and decency, trampling truth and honour under his feet, cast off by all respectable men, he makes his faults and his vices subservient to the extension of his influence, for he says and does whatever suits his purpose for the moment, secure that no detection or subsequent exposure will have the slightest effect with those over whose minds and passions he rules, with such despotic sway. He cares not whom he insults, because, having covered his cowardice with the cloak of religious scruples, he is invulnerable, and will resent no retaliation that can be offered him.
- Charles Greville, journal entry (30 December 1830), quoted in The Greville Memoirs: A Journal of the Reigns of King George IV. and King William IV., Volume II, ed. Henry Reeve (1874), p. 100
- In truth, it is impossible to conceive a more powerful advocate than Mr O'Connell was before a judge and jury. They who have heard him in Parliament only, can form no notion of the man such as he was whilst wielding men’s minds in his natural sphere of action. Impassioned and vigorous as Brougham, discreet, argumentative, and zealous for his client, and forgetful of himself as Lyndhurst, he had a playfulness of humor, a readiness of wit to affix an irresistably ludicrous epithet, or apply some story fraught with ridicule in an appalling degree, where he pleased,—a power, moreover, of deepest pathos, to which the former two were strangers. No man that ever spoke, did probably possess the power of moving the feelings and passions of a jury in the same degree as Mr O'Connell... The deep melody of O'Connell's voice added force and dignity to what he uttered. The minor tones struck upon the heart with the solemn music of a distant bell at night-fall.
- The Law Reporter, No. 5, Vol. 3 (September 1840), p. 164
- [H]e had a natural propensity to exaggeration, and, like all popular orators, a great passion for producing those effects which the statement of a startling fact in an unqualified form so often causes.
- William Edward Hartpole Lecky, The Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland (1861), p. 251
- A good deal of talk about the Royal visit in Ireland; the good sense with which the King has acted, and the bad servile style in which poor Paddy has received him; Mr. O'Connell pre-eminent in blarney and inconsistency.
- Thomas Moore, diary entry (9 September 1821), quoted in Memoirs, Journal, and Correspondence of Thomas Moore, Vol. III, ed. Lord John Russell (1853), p. 275
- In public meetings in Ireland, he is so confident in his powers, that he gives himself little trouble in the selection of his materials, and generally trusts to his emotions for his harangues. He is, on that account, occasionally desultory and irregular. But there is no man more capable of lucid exposition, when he previously deliberates upon the order in which he should array the topics upon which he intends to dwell. He undertook, on this occasion [26 February 1825], the very laborious task of tracing the progress of the penal code, and epitomized in some measure the history of his country. For the first hour he was, perhaps, a little encumbered with small details; but when he advanced into the general consideration of the grievances under which the great body of the people are doomed to labor—when he painted the insolence of the dominant faction—when he showed the effects of the penal code brought to his own door—he seized with an absolute dominion upon the sympathies of his acclaiming auditors, and poured the full tide of his own emotions into their hearts... Many a big drop, compounded of heat and patriotism, of tears and of perspiration, stood upon the rude and honest faces that were cast in true Hibernian mould, and were raised toward the glory of Ireland with a mixed expression of wonder and of love.
- Richard Lalor Sheil, Sketches of the Irish Bar, Vol. II (1854), pp. 221-222
- O'Connell, I think, is the first orator of the age—for his rare concentration of intellectual gifts. He is logical, profound, sarcastic, bitter, humourous, playful,—and has a masterly command of all the earnest and touching passions. I have heard him at least fifty times, and in every variety of question, and every new display gave me a higher opinion of his varied, astonishing, and exquisite powers.
- George Renny Young, On Colonial Literature, Science and Education: Written with a View of Improving the Literary, Educational, and Public Institutions of British North America, Vol. I (1842), p. 326