chapter  7
“The Independent Expression of Public Opinion”
The Paris Correspondence of Francis Sylvester Mahony
WithFergus Dunne
Pages 26

The emperor, Napoleon III, placed a heightened emphasis on the role of the newspapers in the creation of the "Second Empire", and actively maintained popular approval for the policies of the imperial government through his manipulation of public opinion. For Lord Palmerston, "public opinion" did not mean "popular opinion," and he deliberately focused his efforts on winning over the politically powerful "Upper Ten Thousand.". As one of the editors of "a Palmerstonian paper," Francis Sylvester Mahony would certainly have played a significant role in the clandestine production of a pro-government public opinion. In London, Lord Palmerston rallied public opinion behind the Piedmontese prime minister, Camillo Cavour, eager to thwart French expansionism by encouraging the movement for Italian unification. Mahony's partisan interpretation of Ireland's sectarian difficulties hinged, therefore, on the refusal of the "Celtic" Irish to accept the inevitable consequences of historical conflict and to participate in a wider, forward-oriented British narrative of "common deliverance.".