NEWS OF THE WEEK.
IRELAND during the week has exhibited in an unusually strong light the displeasing picture of a great nation wasting its energies on random and conflicting efforts. Indeed, it displays most vigour when there is least purpose. The "great aggregate meeting" of all sorts of Reformers to resist Lord STANLEY'S Bill, which was held at a theatre in Dublin last week, seems, compared to its vast pretensions, to have been a moral failure. Even in respect of numbers it appears to have disappointed the promoters ; although a whole host of leaders, the CHARLEMONTS, the O'CONNELLE, the CRAWFORDS, were cbngregated to contribute to the entertainment of the day. A thinner house than was expected probably had its usual effect upon the stage • for the speakers, able men, who have something to say for themselves elsewhere, were particu- larly dull. Nothing could they muster but the commonest remarks about Lord STANLEY'S oppressive bill, the unequal franchise of Ireland, and the usual topics of Irish meetings, in their weakest and most effete shape. Those dulnesses were diversified by a little Universal-Suffrage doctrine, tamely hinted by WIT.. SHARMAN CRAWFORD, and a little Repeal extravagance on- the part of the- audience, now repressed now dallied with by Mr. O'CoNNELL. The best speech was undoubtedly O'CoNNELris own ; but that was calculated to suggest melancholy impressions, which certainly the speaker did not intend. Here was the great meeting of all sections of Irish Reformers, called together to defend the oppressed country from further political degradation,—a great and solemn purpose ; and the best speech of the day, the only telling speech that can in any respect be called good, derived its point and force from a frivolous admixture of sentimental hyperbole, genuine blarney, and coarse jocosity. Even the impressive occa- sion could not make the Liberator preserve a decent gravity ; but an hysterical bandying of epithets with the " miscreated lordling," STANLEY, was relieved by winking allusions to the forbidden sub- ject of the day, Repeal. But Ireland is to have a "triumph" over Lord STANLEY; and what is that ? Why, O'CONNELL and his countrymen are to "get some scalded animal, and affix to its tail the name of Stanley, and hunt it through the country." Such are the visions of triumph for Ireland, held out by the great speaker of the "great aggregate meeting." And the picked meeting of all Ireland reechoed that threat of triumph ! No wonder Ireland has been the plaything of vicious statesmen.
From these triumphant anticipations Mr. O'CONNELL travelled on another of his triumphs ; and this last at least was not a trite ovation. He performed the converse of that ingenious manceuvre, concealment in a conspicuous place; for he now displayed himself to his loving subjects of Ulster in a shut-up carriage, loudly pro- claimed his approach by travelling under a feigned name, blessed the longing eyes of the North by stealing in the day before the one fixed, and prepared, it is said, to fly to the arms of his Belfast ad- mirers by taking in hand store of blunderbusses. Such was his triumphal progress into Belfast ; where, on the other hand, due honour was done to his approach by crowding the town with troops, to save him from the petrifying distinction awarded to St. Stephen. He arrived on the Sunday, and on that day he did not stir out. The town, it is said, presented the usual calm aspect of the Sab- bath, except that the streets bore an excited and uneasy appear- ance. On the Monday, the Liberator reached in safety the room where he was to be entertained at a public dinner ; and here, as well as to a deputation from the Trades, who waited upon him in his own lodging with an address, he spoke with unusual modera- tion, though not altogether without levity ; earnestly deprecating religious intolerance, and gravely avowing himself the champion of all distressed Orangemen! At the dinner, he asked a naive ques- tion; the answer to which, if he sought it sincerely, might give him a new light as to Irish agitations--
" Are we not a material fit for making the present struggle—close on nine millions—eight millions five hundred thousand by the report of the Railway
Commissioners. Is there any deficiency of energy, bravery, or peiseverance in the people of Ireland—to stand for ages, or to fall for our native cutiptry. Ha- nover, with its three millions' is an independent state : are we not as good as it--or its master. Portugal has its two millions and is independent. Sicily has its three millions, anti is independent. Holland has not three millions ; vet never has she, through her glorious struggles, permitted her liberty to fall. 'Who, then, dare tell Inc that eight millions of Irishmen cannot defend their liberty P" This cuts both ways : if all these countries, with their two and three millions each, have acquired a place among the nations, why has not Ireland, with her eight or nine millions, already done so ? And will tying Lord STANLEY'S name to the tails of frightened dogs help her to it ?
The one practical piece of information from Ireland for the week is, Lord EBRINGTON s announcement to the Ulster Association, that Government have prepared a bill to meet Lord STANLEY'S in the coming session. What is it like, however' and how much does it resemble the bill as it will be left by the Lords, and sanc- tioned by Mr. O'CONNELL ?