CELT document E800002-037

No Redress—no Inquiry

Thomas Osborne Davis

Edited by T.W. Rolleston

No Redress—no Inquiry

No Redress—no Inquiry


THE British Parliament has refused to redress our wrongs, or even to inquire into them. For five long nights were they compelled to listen to arguments, facts, and principles proving that we were sorely oppressed. They did not deny the facts—they did not refute the reasoning—they did not undermine the principles—but they would not try to right us.

“We inherit the right of hatred for six centuries of oppression; what will you do to prove your repentance and propitiate our revenge?”—and the answer is, “That's an old story, we wish to hear no more of it.”

Legislature of Britain, you shall hear more of it!

The growing race of Irishmen are the first generation of freemen which Ireland nursed these three centuries. The national schools may teach them only the dry elements of knowledge adulterated with Anglicism, and Trinity College may teach them bigotry, along with graceful lore and strong science; but there are other schools at work. There is a national art, and there is an Irish literature growing up. Day after day the choice of the young men discover that genius needs a country to honour and be loved by. The Irish Press is beginning to teach the People to know themselves and their history; to know other nations, and to feel the rights and duties of citizens. The agitation, whose surges sweep through every nook of the island, converts all that the People learn to national uses; nothing is lost, nothing is adverse; neutrality is help, and all power is converted into power for Ireland.

Ireland is changing the loose tradition of her wrongs into history and ballad; and though justice, repentance, or retribution may make her cease to need vengeance,  p.258 she will immortally remember her bondage, her struggles, her glories, and her disasters. Till her suffering ceases that remembrance will rouse her passions and nerve her arm. May she not forgive till she is no longer oppressed; and when she forgives, may she never forget!

Why need we repeat the tale of present wretchedness? Seven millions and a half of us are Presbyterians and Catholics, and our whole ecclesiastical funds go to the gorgeous support of the Clergy of the remaining 800,000, who are Episcopalians. Where else on earth does a similar injury and dishonour exist? Nowhere; 'twas confessed it existed nowhere. Would it weaken the empire to abolish this? Confessedly not, but would give it some chance of holding together. Would it injure Protestantism? You say not. Idle wealth is fatal to a Church, and supremacy bars out every proud and generous convert. Why is it maintained? The answer is directly given—“England (that is, the English aristocracy) is bigoted,” and no Ministry dare give you redress. These are the very words of Captain Rous, the Tory member for Westminster, and the whole House assented to the fact. If you cannot redress—if you will not go into inquiry, lest this redress, so needed by us, should be fatal to your selfish power, then loose your hold of us, and we will redress ourselves; and we will do so with less injury to any class than you possibly could, for a free nation may be generous—a struggling one will not and ought not to be so.

We are most dishonestly taxed for your debts; the fact was not denied—an ominous silence declared that not a halfpenny of that mighty mortgage would be taken off our shoulders.

You raise five millions a year from us, and you spend it on English commissioners, English dockyards, English museums, English ambition, and English pleasures. With an enormous taxation, our public offices have been removed p.259 to London, and you threaten to remove our Courts of Justice, and our Lord Lieutenancy, the poor trapping of old nationhood. We have no arsenals, no public employment here; our literary, scientific, and charitable institutions, so bountifully endowed by a Native Legislature, you have forced away, till, out of that enormous surplus revenue raised here, not £10,000 a year comes back for such purposes, while you have heaped hundred upon hundred thousand into the lap of every English institution. For National Education you dribble out £50,000 a year—not enough for our smallest province. Will you redress these things? No, but you boast of your liberality in giving us anything.

“Oh, but you are not overtaxed,” says Peel; “see, your Post-office produces nothing to the revenue.” Ay, Sir, our Post-office, which levies the same rates as the English Post-office, produces nothing; Ireland is too poor to make even a penny-postage pay its own cost. No stronger mark of a stagnant trade could be adduced. “And then we lowered your spirit duty.” Yes you did, because it brought in less than the lower duty. What single tax did you take off, except when it had been raised so high, or the country had declined so low, that it ceased to be productive? You increased our taxation up to the end of the war two and a half times more rapidly than you did your own, and you diminished our taxation after the war thirty times less rapidly.

You have a fleet of steamers now—you had none in 1817, says some pattern of English Senators, whose constituents are bound to subscribe a few school-books for him if they mean to continue him as their delegate.

And my Lord Eliot says our exports and imports have increased. We wish your Lordship would have separate accounts kept that we might know how much. But they have increased—ay, they have; and they are provisions.


And our population has increased and when we had one half the number of People to feed we sent out a tenth of the provisions we send away now. This is ruin, not prosperity. We had weavers, iron-workers, glass-makers, and fifty other flourishing trades. They sold their goods to Irishmen in exchange for beef and mutton, and bread, and bacon, and potatoes. The Irish provisions were not exported—they were eaten in Ireland. They are exported now—for Irish artisans, without work, must live on the refuse of the soil, and Irish peasants must eat lumpers or starve. Part of the exports go to buy rags and farming tools, which once went for clothes and all other goods to Irish operatives, and the rest goes to raise money to pay absentee rents and imperial taxes. Will you tax our absentees? Will you employ our artisans? Will you abate your taxes, or spend them among us? No; you refuse redress—you refuse inquiry.

Your conquests and confiscations have given us land tenures alien to the country and deadly to the peasant. Will you interfere in property to save him, as you interfered to oppress him? You hint that you might inquire, but you only offered redress in an Arms' Bill—to prostrate the poor man, to violate the sanctity of his home, to brand him, and leave him at the mercy of his local tyrant.

Will you equalise the franchise, and admit us, in proportion to our numbers, into your Senate, and let us try there for redress? You may inquire, perhaps, some other time; if much pressed, you may consider some increase of the franchise—you decline to open the representation.

And if England will do none of these things, will she allow us, for good or ill, to govern ourselves, and see if we cannot redress our own griefs? “No, never, never,” he says, “though all Ireland cried for it—never! Her fields shall be manured with the shattered limbs of her sons, and her  p.261 hearths quenched in their blood; but never, while England has a ship or a soldier, shall Ireland be free.”

And this is your answer? We shall see—we shall see!

And now, Englishmen, listen to us! Though you were to-morrow to give us the best tenures on earth—though you were to equalise Presbyterian, Catholic, and Episcopalian—though you were to give us the amplest representation in your Senate—though you were to restore our absentees, disencumber us of your debt, and redress every one of our fiscal wrongs—and though, in addition to all this, you plundered the treasuries of the world to lay gold at our feet, and exhausted the resources of your genius to do us worship and honour—still we tell you— we tell you, in the names of liberty and country—we tell you, in the name of enthusiastic hearts, thoughtful souls, and fearless spirits—we tell you, by the past, the present and the future, we would spurn your gifts, if the condition were that Ireland should remain a province. We tell you, and all whom it may concern, come what may—bribery or deceit, justice, policy, or war—we tell you, in the name of Ireland, that Ireland shall be a Nation!

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Title (uniform): No Redress—no Inquiry

Author: Thomas Osborne Davis

Editor: T.W. Rolleston

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Electronic edition compiled by: Beatrix Färber

proof corrections by: Margaret Bonar

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2. Second draft.

Extent: 2735 words

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Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland — http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2005

Date: 2008

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: E800002-037

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  • First published in The Nation, 15 July, 1843. [This date obtained from K. M. MacGrath, "Writers in the 'Nation', 1842-5.", Irish Historical Studies, vi, 23 (March 1949) 189-223.]

Editions of this text; other writings by Thomas Davis

  1. Thomas Davis, Essays Literary and Historical, ed. by D. J. O'Donoghue, Dundalk 1914.
  2. Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (ed.), Thomas Davis, the memoirs of an Irish patriot, 1840–1846. 1890.
  3. Thomas Osborne Davis, Literary and historical essays 1846. Reprinted 1998, Washington, DC: Woodstock Books.
  4. Essays of Thomas Davis. New York, Lemma Pub. Corp. 1974, 1914 [Reprint of the 1914 ed. published by W. Tempest, Dundalk, Ireland, under the title 'Essays literary and historical'.]
  5. Thomas Davis: essays and poems, with a centenary memoir, 1845–1945. Dublin, M.H. Gill and Son, 1945. [Foreword by an taoiseach, Éamon de Valera.]
  6. Angela Clifford, Godless colleges and mixed education in Ireland: extracts from speeches and writings of Thomas Wyse, Daniel O'Connell, Thomas Davis, Charles Gavan Duffy, Frank Hugh O'Donnell and others. Belfast: Athol, 1992.

Selected further reading

  1. Arthur Griffith (ed.), Thomas Davis: the thinker & teacher; the essence of his writings in prose and poetry. Dublin: Gill 1914.
  2. William O'Brien, The influence of Thomas Davis: a lecture delivered by William O'Brien, M.P., at the City Hall, Cork, on 5th November 1915. Cork: Free Press Office, 1915.
  3. Johannes Schiller, Thomas Osborne Davis, ein irischer Freiheitssänger. Wiener Beiträge zur englischen Philologie, Bd. XLVI. Wien und Leipzig, W. Braumüller, 1915.
  4. Michael Quigley (ed.), Pictorial record: centenary of Thomas Davis and young Ireland. Dublin [1945].
  5. Joseph Maunsell Hone, Thomas Davis (Famous Irish Lives). 1934.
  6. M. J. MacManus (ed.), Thomas Davis and Young Ireland. Dublin: The Stationery Office, 1945.
  7. J. L. Ahern, Thomas Davis and his circle. Waterford, 1945.
  8. Michael Tierney, 'Thomas Davis: 1814–1845'. Studies; an Irish quarterly review, 34:135 (1945) 300–10.
  9. Theodore William Moody, 'The Thomas Davis centenary lecture in Newry'. An t-Iubhar (=Newry) 1946, 22–6.
  10. D. R. Gwynn, O'Connell, Davis and the Colleges Bill (Centenary Series 1). Oxford and Cork, 1948.
  11. D. R. Gwynn, 'John E. Pigot and Thomas Davis'. Studies; an Irish quarterly review, 38 (1949) 145–57.
  12. D. R. Gwynn, 'Denny Lane and Thomas Davis'. Studies; an Irish quarterly review, 38 (1949) 15–28.
  13. N. N., Clár cuimhneacháin: comóradh i gcuimhne Thomáis Daibhis, Magh Ealla, 1942. Baile Átha Cliath (=Dublin) 1942.
  14. Christopher Preston, 'Commissioners under the Patriot Parliament, 1689'. Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 5th ser., 74:8 (1950) 141–51.
  15. W.B. Yeats, Tribute to Thomas Davis: with an account of the Thomas Davis centenary meeting held in Dublin on November 20th, 1914, including Dr. Mahaffy's prohibition of the 'Man called Pearse,' and an unpublished protest by 'A.E.', Cork 1965.
  16. Theodore William Moody, 'Thomas Davis and the Irish nation'. Hermathena, 103 (1966) 5–31.
  17. Malcolm Johnston Brown, The politics of Irish literature: from Thomas Davis to W. B. Yeats. Seattle (University of Washington Press) 1973.
  18. Eileen Sullivan, Thomas Davis. Lewisburg, New Jersey: Bucknell University Press, 1978.
  19. Mary G. Buckley, Thomas Davis: a study in nationalist philosophy. Ph.D. Thesis, National University of Ireland, at the Department of Irish History, UCC, 1980.
  20. Giulio Giorello, "A nation once again": Thomas Osborne Davis and the construction of the Irish "popular" tradition. History of European Ideas, 20:1–3 (1995) 211–17.
  21. John Neylon Molony, A soul came into Ireland: Thomas Davis 1814–1845. Dublin 1995.
  22. Robert Somerville-Woodward, "Two 'views of the Irish language': O'Connell versus Davis." The History Review: journal of the UCD History Society, 9 (1995) 44–50.
  23. John Neylon Molony, 'Thomas Davis: Irish Romantic idealist'. In: Richard Davis; Jennifer Livett; Anne-Maree Whitaker; Peter Moore (eds.), Irish-Australian studies: papers delivered at the eighth Irish-Australian Conference, Hobart July 1995 (Sydney 1996) 52–63.
  24. David Alvey, 'Thomas Davis. The conservation of a tradition.' Studies; an Irish quarterly review, 85 (1996) 37–42.
  25. Harry White, The keeper's recital: music and cultural history in Ireland, 1770–1970. (Cork 1998).
  26. Joseph Langtry; Brian Fay,'The Davis influence.' In: Joseph Langtry (ed.), A true Celt: Thomas Davis, The Nation, rebellion and transportation: a series of essays. (Dublin 1998) 30–38.
  27. Joseph Langtry, 'Thomas Davis (1814–1845).' In: Joseph Langtry (ed.), A true Celt: Thomas Davis, The Nation, rebellion and transportation: a series of essays. (Dublin 1998) 2–7.
  28. Patrick Maume, 'Young Ireland, Arthur Griffith, and republican ideology: the question of continuity.' Éire–Ireland, 34:2 (1999) 155–74.
  29. Sean Ryder, 'Speaking of '98: Young Ireland and republican memory'. Éire–Ireland, 34:2 (1999) 51–69.
  30. Ghislaine Saison, 'L'écriture de l'histoire chez la Jeune Irlande: quelle histoire pour une nation du consensus et de la réconciliation?' In: Centre de recherche inter-langues angevin, Écriture(s) de l'histoire: Actes du colloque des 2,3 et 4 décembre 1999. (Angers 2001) 435–46.
  31. Gerry Kearns, 'Time and some citizenship: nationalism and Thomas Davis.' Bullán: an Irish Studies Review, 5:2 (2001) 23–54.
  32. Helen Mulvey, Thomas Davis and Ireland: a biographical study. Washington, D.C., Catholic University of America Press, 2003.

Davis, Thomas Osborne (1910). ‘No Redress—no Inquiry’. In: Thomas Davis: Selections from his prose and poetry‍. Ed. by T. W. Rolleston. Dublin and London: The Talbot Press, pp. 257–261.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  author 	 = {Thomas Osborne Davis},
  title 	 = {No Redress—no Inquiry},
  editor 	 = {T. W. Rolleston},
  booktitle 	 = {Thomas Davis: Selections from his prose and poetry},
  publisher 	 = {The Talbot Press},
  address 	 = {Dublin and London},
  date 	 = {1910},
  pages 	 = {257–261}


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Creation: by Thomas Davis

Date: 1843

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Keywords: literary; prose; 19c

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  7. 1996: Text captured by scanning. (ed. Audrey Murphy)

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