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Title: John Mitchel, Connecticut, USA to Miss Thomson, [Dublin?].
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileMitchel, John/23
SenderMitchel, John
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationunknown
Sender ReligionProtestant
OriginStonington, Connecticut, USA
DestinationDublin, Ireland
RecipientMiss Thomson
Recipient Genderfemale
Relationshipfriends, relatives?
SourceT 413/5: Obtained from Mrs Florence Dawson, 26 Windsor Park, Belfast.
ArchiveThe Public Record Office, Northern Ireland.
Doc. No.8809139
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by JM 27:09:1993.
Word Count1348
TranscriptStonington, Connecticut.

Aug. 26, 1854.

Dear Miss Thomson,

Your letter to Jenny of 29th, 31st July has come
to us here, where we have been all sojourning for two or
three weeks, enjoying the seabathing. She commissions me to
reply - saying that I cannot plead want of leisure here, as
I always do in New York. Well, then, I suppose you have no
notion of what Stonington is. Imagine the southern coast of
Connecticut, cold, bare & granitic, indented by bays &
river-mouths & faced here & there by granite rocks & islands
out at sea. On a bleak tongue of land running out between a
bay on one side, & the Pawtucket river on the other stands a
town of the neatest, whitest, trimmest wooden houses, the
streets shaded by maple-trees; fishing vessels at the Quay &
a huge Noah's ark of a steamer, without mast or sail, but
with two funnels, that goes up to New York every night
meeting another coming down, both full of passengers, three
or four hundred, discharged here twice a day from New York
per steamer, bound for Boston per Stonington Railroad, or
from Boston per Railroad, bound for New York per steamer:
for here passes one of the three routes that bring daily,
nightly, & hourly a full stream of people tearing along from
both ends as if the Devil were chasing them. This people is
eternally travelling: according to the old Hebrew
imprecation they are "made like unto a wheel" - and in this
New England, at least, they do appear to be dreeing this
locomotive penalty under a curse, or as atonement for sin,
so solemn, so grim, so penitential, look these
sickly-looking thin men & grim, meagre, hard women of dismal
intelligence - for intelligent they are, clear-eyed,
high-browed petrific to Gods & men. Churches, there are,
Baptist, Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed,
Episcopal, in this Stonington, and about two thousand dreary
inhabitants. We live (as all people at watering-places in
America do) in a large Hotel, with a public table - the
guests almost all descendents of the Pilgrim-fathers, with a
righteous horror of "the South". They looked at me with a
sort of obscure & grave horror at first for I am an hissing
to New England. Yet I have conciliated some of the dismal
folk and as for Jenny she is a favourite. Amusements
boating, driving in lurid conveyances to the neighbouring
Connecticut villages - all clean, prim wooden as Stonington,
bathing, for which the beach is not very favourable; and by
way of variety there was last night a "fair" in the

Schoolhouse attached to one of the churches - the sort of
thing which in Ireland is called a Bazaar, for selling
knick-knacks to raise money for some congregational purpose.
On the whole I like Virginia much better than this region -
and if I had only a good plantation there - but I will not
shock you. About the "war". In your last letter before
this one, you said our enemy's troops were employed at least
this once, in a righteous cause. What think you now?
Believe me, it is quite impossible for the British
Government ever, by any accident, to be on the same side
with justice - until British aristocracy, that is to say the
whole structure of society in Britain shall have been
destroyed by a revolution. Never in all her series of wars
did England make so foul & hateful a figure as she makes in
this - the only comfort being that she makes a helpless
figure too. You will have seen ere now that I am at open &
deadly war with the Catholic priests, or at least the
hierarchy. Undoubtedly they have taken their stand with all
the tyrannies of the earth; and though they dislike British
Power, they hate Revolution worse. There is no use in
keeping up a hollow true with them: and the cause of Ireland
(if there be any cause of Ireland yet extant) must be
advanced through their alliance, but over their fallen
power. If that may not be, then there is no cause of
Ireland at all. We had a letter yesterday from John Martin,
date 24 May. The three prisioners had heard by that time,
through the newspapers, that the Queen of England was to
extend "clemency" to them: but the authorities there had
received as yet no instructions to that effect. I am still
convinced that when the instructions do arrive they will be
such that our friends cannot avail themselves of the
"clemency". And so it is with a good deal of anxiety I
await the next news from Australia. Our prisoner friends
are well.

Jenny was ill about a month ago, & was confined to
her bed when your last letter but one arrived. She says
that her illness, and the hurried preparation for the shore
afterwards prevented her from sooner replying. She has now
become strong and well again with the seabathing, and the
children are all flourishing. The "baby" you enquire for is
no other than Rixy. There is no later candidate for the
post of Baby. It would have given us all most excessive
pleasure if you had told us you were coming over to see
America. You would probably like a visit to the country
very much; but residence in it is another matter. In fact
few ladies brought up in an old country do like it. But to
me it is a sort of Eden after my years of bondage. The real
genuine freedom of the people is intoxicating. Then we have

a sort of home-circle here (besides many agreeable American
acquaintances) which enables us often to spend an evening in
Ireland. In Stonington for instance, we have had the
Dillons living in the same house with us, and they are both
of them very choice Irish. Mrs Dillon would be, I
conjecture, very much to your taste. She is clever, lazy,
accomplished & quiet in manner. A Catholic, but not an
ultramontane papist - and nearly as familiar with Germany,
France & Rome as with Ireland. Then O'Gorman has lately
married his cousin, a Miss Fox, of Dublin, very agreeable
too. And they as well as my mother, brother & sisters, live
in Brooklyn quite near to us. The boys have been at school,
said to be the best in New York, and the little girls are
schooled by one of my sisters. We have had a broiling
summer here, and a winter before it perfectly polar: yet
with all its unreasonable extremes of climate New York is
very heathly.

Yet we often pine for the country. Beyond the
Alleghanies are beautiful shady vallies, & cheap land. And
if this War turn out an imposture, & no brightening soon
appears in the prospects of Irish Revolution - do not be
astonished if you hear of our flying suddenly from the
Atlantic coast, & burying ourselves in the umbrageous West -
Yet not farther than two days railway journey from this
coast; because a chance of Revolution in Europe may turn up
any day when least expected. I am glad you liked my Address
at the University of Virginia. It is a splendid
institution, the peculiar work of Jefferson's latter days, &
with splendid buildings all visible from Monticello. When I
say splendid you are not to suppose I mean that they
approach Trinity College in magnificence. There is nothing
in all this country equal to that. But yet in Philadelphia
there is one college - Girard College - whose central
building, a stupendous peristyle Greek temple, of white
marble, is finer than any one building in Trinity, or in all
Dublin. Virginia University however has nearly five hundred
resident students, the very choice of the South - that is
of America. It stands in a lovely country near the base of
the "Blue Ridge" - a fine wooded range reminding me of Van
Diemen's land. Wife and children commend themselves to your
kind remembrances & I to your indulgent interpretation &
construction -

So adieu,

J. [John?] Mitchel.