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THE STATE CONVICT, JOHN MITCHEL.
SPIKE ISLAND can boast a more distinguished convict than even the artist of Ireland's Eye-namely John Mitchel, the Arch-Rebel of 1848; the man who bearded that active, versatile, and astute statesman, the Earl of Clarendon, who was then viceroy of Ireland.
We quote from John Mitchel's Prison Journal, a very remarkable production, written with great ability, and overflowing with his own revolu
JOHN MITCHEL'S PRISON JOURNAL. 49
tionary thoughts and feelings like an active volcano. It opens thus :
May 27, 1848. On this day about four o'clock in the afternoon, I, John Mitchel, was kidnapped and carried off from Dublin, in chains as a convicted felon.
"After a long and furious drive along the Circular Road, I could perceive that we were coming near the river. The machine suddenly stopped, and I was carried to the quay wall, between two ranks of carbineers, with naked swords. A government steamer, the Shearwater, lay in the river with steam up, and a large man of war's boat, filled with men armed to the teeth, was alongside the wall. I descended the ladder—with some difficulty, owing to the chain-took my seat beside a naval officer, who sat in the stern, and a dozen pulls brought us to the steamer's side.
"As soon as we came aboard, the naval officer who had brought me off-a short dark man of five-and-forty or thereabouts-conducted me to the cabin, ordered my fetters to be removed, and
CONVERSATION WITH CAPTAIN HALL.
called for sherry and water to be placed before us, and began to talk.
The naval officer was Captain Hall, of the Dragon. Mitchel told him he had read his "account of the Chilian and Peruvian revolutions, and of that splendid fellow San Martin.”
Hall laughed and said, "Your mind has been running on revolutions.”
"Yes, very much, almost exclusively."
"Ah, sir, dangerous things these revolutions."
"You may say that," said Mitchel.
The vessel enters Cork Harbour, the 28th of May, on a Sunday morning, and casts anchor within five hundred yards of Spike Island, "a rueful-looking place," writes this convict, “where I could discern, crowning the hill, the long walls of the prison, and a battery commanding the harbour.
"A boat was instantly lowered and manned. My friends told me they would take it on their own responsibility-policemen have high respon
ARRIVAL AT SPIKE ISLAND.
sibilities in Ireland-not to put me in irons, as I went ashore. The commander and first lieutenant buckled on their swords, and took their seats in the stern of the boat beside me.
"We were rowed rapidly to the Island, and as we walked up the approach, met a grave-looking gentleman, who said, 'Mr. Mitchel, I presume?'
"How the devil, thought I, did you know I was coming to you, forgetting that Lord Clarendon, before I was tried, made sure of my conviction. However, I bowed, and then he turned, and escorted us to his den, over a drawbridge, past several sentries, through several gratings, and, at last, into a small square court.
"At one side of the court a door opened into a large vaulted room furnished with a bed, table, chair, and basin-stand; and I was told I was in my cell.
"The two naval officers took their leave politely, saying they hoped to meet me under happier circumstances; and they seemed really
THE PRISONER IN HIS CELL.
sorry. I bowed, thanked them, and was left
"And now as this is a faithful record of whatever befalls me, I do confess, and write down the confession, that I flung myself on the bed, and broke into a raging passion of tears-tears, bitter and salt-tears of wrath, pity, regret, remorse : but not of base lamentation for my fate. The thoughts and feelings that have so shaken me, for this once, language was never made to describe. But if any austere censor could find it in his heart to vilipend my manhood therefor, I would advise him to wait until he finds himself in a somewhat similar position. Believe me, O Stoic, if your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you.
"It is over, and finally over. In half an hour I rose, bathed my head in water, and walked awhile up and down my room. I know that all weakness is past, and that I am ready for my fourteen years' ordeal, and for whatsoever the same may bring me