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GUEST,Observer Lyr Req: Trevelyan in Irish song (16) RE: Lyr Req: Trevelyan in Irish song 30 Sep 18


Thompson is this the John Mitchel you are referring to?

John Mitchel (Irish: Seán Mistéal; 3 November 1815 – 20 March 1875) was an Irish nationalist activist, author, and political journalist. Born in Camnish, near Dungiven, County Londonderry and reared in Newry, he became a leading member of both Young Ireland and the Irish Confederation. He was transported to Van Diemens Land and but later escaped to the United States in the 1850s, he became a pro-slavery editorial voice. Mitchel supported the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, and two of his sons died fighting for the Confederate cause. He was elected to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in 1875 but was disqualified because he was a convicted felon.

Anything written by this man can hardly be described as being factual, objective or unbiased. As for his manichean vision - On reflection [26 years later], he assimilated the experience to his manichean vision: ‘I saw Trevelyan’s claw in the vitals of those children: his red tape would draw them to death: in his Government laboratory he had prepared for them the typhus poison’ (Mitchel, 1873b: 247).

That over a quarter of a century AFTER the event he talks about there being a preparable typhus poison, reinforces the fact that little was actually known about the disease in the 1840s. There was little or no understanding of it until the 1880s, years AFTER Mitchel's death. There is of course no typhus poison that can be prepared and I do not believe there were any Government Laboratories in existence in 1845 the sources of the various types of typhus are body lice (Rickettsia prowazekii); fleas on rats (Rickettsia typhi); harvest mites on rodents or humans (Orientia tsutsugamushi) and Queensland Ticks (Rickettsia australis). The intervention by the British Government at the time was unique and people tend to forget that the various Government Departments and Ministry's that would be called upon to act in such circumstances today simply did not exist in the 1840s (Home Office; Foreign Office; Treasury - nothing else, and the official manning of those departments was tiny - folks the world over in those days were expected to look after themselves).

Those who have manichean visions of the world (George W Bush was said to be one) view the world or certain events in simple terms of "good v evil". In Mitchel's case he viewed British rule to be evil, yet slavery and the Confederate cause good. Reality is of course that the world is, and events that happen in this world are, a great deal more complex than that.

Thank you for the links you have provided, my reference was Cecil Woodham Smith's book first published 56 years ago. 1847 saw the highest death toll of the "Famine" yet it was the one year of the famine where the potato crop did not completely fail, and the year in which the fewest number of people actually died of starvation. The greatest killer during the entire "famine" and 1847 in particular was not hunger it was disease, namely typhus, cholera and dysentry. This is basically what is stated in your link to the impact of the famine in Ulster.


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