Every man born in Ireland holds a
“hereditary brief” for the opponents of
English sway, wherever they may be. The tribunal
of history in his own land is closed to him; he must
appeal to another court; he must seek the ear of those
who make history elsewhere. The Irishman is denied
the right of having a history, as he is denied the
right of having a country. He must recover both.
For him there is no past any more than a future.
And if he seeks the record of his race in the only
schools or books open to him he will find that hope
has been shut out of the school and fame taken out
of the story.
The late John Richard Green, one of
the greatest of English historians, was attracted
to Ireland by a noble sympathy for the fallen which
he shared with very few of his fellow-countrymen.
We are told that he sympathized with the spirit of
Irish nationality. “A State,” he
would say, “is accidental; it can be made or
unmade; but a nation is something real which can be
neither made nor destroyed.”
He had once planned a history of Ireland,
“but abandoned the idea because the continuous
record of misery and misgovernment was too painful
to contemplate.” All pleasure lies in contrast.
The history of Ireland offers no contrast; it is a
tale of unmitigated wrong.
It is too full of graves and the ghosts
are not laid yet. As well write the history of
a churchyard. Forty years before John Richard
Green thus explained why he had abandoned the plan
of the graveyard, Victor Hugo lashed the front of
England with this very thong. “Ireland
turned into a cemetery; Poland transported to Siberia;
all Italy a galleys there is where we stand
in this month of November, 1831!”
The history of Ireland remains to
be written, because the purpose of Ireland remains
yet to be achieved. The widow of John Richard
Green has laid the foundations of that temple of hope
in which the youth of Ireland must enter and be sworn
to the task that yet remains for Irishmen to accomplish.
And so in closing the days of 1913
I bring, with a message of hope, these scattered thoughts
upon the British Empire and its approaching dissolution
to lay before the youth of Ireland. I say approaching
dissolution advisedly, for the signs are there to be
read. “Home Rule” will not save it.
The attempt now being made to bribe Ireland and the
greater Ireland beyond the seas, to the side of the
Elsewhere Empire by what has been aptly termed a “ticket-of-leave”
bill, will not suffice. The issue lies in stronger
hands. Even could the two Irelands be won by
the dole now offered, of a subordinate Parliament in
Dublin, its hands tied so that it must be impotent
for any national effort, “a Parliament”
as Mr. Herbert Samuel says, “for the local affairs
of Irishmen,” there are other and more powerful
agencies that no measure of conciliation within the
Empire can permanently win to that system of world
exploitation centred in London.
“I would let the Irish have
Home Rule,” said recently Mr. Winston Churchill,
“for their own idiotic affairs.” But
the last word came from Lord Morley, the “father
of Home Rule.” “Give it them,”
he said, in friendly, private counsel, “give
it them; let them have the full savour of their own
But the last word of all will come,
not from Lord Morley, or “Home Rule,”
but from the land and the myriad peoples whose ancient
civilization, Lord Morley, like every preceding Viceroy,
has striven to bury under the dunghill of British
supremacy in India, and to hide the very outlines
of the ancient body of the set designs of a new purpose.
The capital of British India is to be the “new
Delhi,” planned in Whitehall, but paid for in
India the apotheosis of dung. The
new India will make short work of “the new Delhi.”
“An unplumbed, salt, estranging
sea” of moral and spiritual separation sets
between the imperial conception as nourished in Britain
and the growing hope of the great millions of mankind
who make up the greatest realm of her empire.
Ireland might be bought or
bribed, at any rate in this generation, to forfeit
her national ideals and barter the aspiration that
six centuries of contact with England have failed
to kill; but the 350,000,000 of Indian mankind can
never be, or bought, or bribed in the end.
Even if Ireland forgot the deathless
words of Grattan, delivered in the subordinate Parliament
of 1780, those words will find a response in the hearts
of men who never heard of Grattan. For the voice
of the Irish patriot was, in truth, a world voice a
summons to every audience wherever men gather in quest
of freedom. The prophesy Grattan uttered in the
name of Ireland assuredly will be fulfilled, and that
in the life time of many of us, in that greater Ireland
England holds in the eastern seas by the very same
tide of raid, conquest and spoliation that has given
her our own land.
Substitute India for Ireland and the
Grattan of 1780 becomes the Indian patriot of to-day.
“I will never be satisfied so
long as the meanest cottager in Ireland has a link
of the British chain clanking in his rags; he may be
naked, he shall not be in irons; and I do see the
time is at hand; the spirit has gone forth, the declaration
is planted; and though great men should apostasize,
yet the cause will live; and though the public speaker
should die, yet the immortal fire shall outlast the
organ which conveyed it, and the breath of liberty,
like the word of holy men, will not die with the prophet,
but survive him.”
Were Ireland to accept the bribe now
offered she would indeed justify the reproach of Wilfred
Blunt; but she would become some thing else than a
“weapon of offence in England’s hands against
the freedom of the world elsewhere;” she would
share, and rightly share the fate of the parasite
growth that, having gripped her trunk so tightly, has
by that aid reached the sunlight. The British
Empire is no northern oak tree. It is a creeping,
climbing plant that has fastened on the limbs of others
and grown great from a sap not its own. If we
seek an analogy for it in the vegetable and not in
the animal world we must go to the forests of the
tropics and not to the northland woodlands. In
the great swamps at the mouth of the Amazon the naturalist
Bates describes a monstrous liana, the “Sipo
Matador” or Murdering Creeper, that far more
fitly than the oak tree of the north typifies John
Bull and the place he has won in the sunlight by the
once strong limbs of Ireland.
Speaking of the forests round Para,
Bates says: “In these tropical forests
each plant and tree seems to be striving to outvie
its fellows, struggling upwards towards light and
air branch and leaf and stem regardless
of its neighbours. Parasitic plants are seen
fastening with firm grip on others, making use of them
with reckless indifference as instruments for their
own advancement. Live and let live is clearly
not the maxim taught in these wildernesses. There
is one kind of parasitic tree very common near Para
which exhibits this feature in a very prominent manner.
It is called the “Sipo Matador,” or Murderer
Liana. It belongs to the fig order, and has been
described and figured by Von Martius as the Atlas
to Spix and Martius’ Travels. I observed
many specimens. The base of its stem would be unable
to bear the weight of the upper growth; it is obliged
therefore to support itself on a tree of another
species. In this it is not essentially different
from other climbing trees and plants, but the way
the Matador sets about it is peculiar and produces
certainly a disagreeable impression. It springs
up close to the tree on which it intends to fix itself,
and the wood of its stem grows by spreading itself
like a plastic mould over one side of the trunk of
its supporter. It then puts forth, from each
side, an armlike branch, which grows rapidly, and
looks as though a stream of sap were flowing and hardening
as it went. This adheres closely to the trunk
of the victim, and the two arms meet at the opposite
side and blend together. These arms are put forth
at somewhat regular intervals in mounting upwards,
and the victim, when its strangler is full grown, becomes
tightly clasped by a number of inflexible rings.
These rings gradually grow larger as the Murderer
flourishes, rearing its crown of foliage to the sky
mingled with that of its neighbour, and in course of
time they kill it, by stopping the flow of its sap.
The strange spectacle now remains of the selfish parasite
clasping in its arms the lifeless and decaying body
of its victim, which had been a help to its own growth.
Its ends have been served it has flowered
and fruited, reproduced and disseminated its kind;
and now when the dead trunk moulders away its own
end approaches; its support is gone and itself also
The analogy is almost the most perfect
in literature, and if we would not see it made perfect
in history we must get rid of the parasite grip before
we are quite strangled. If we would not share
the coming darkness we must shake off the murderer’s
hold, before murderer and victim fall together.
That fall is close at hand. A brave hand may yet
cut the “Sipo Matador,” and the slayer
be slain before he has quite stifled his victim.
If that hand be not a European one,
then may it come, bronzed, keen, and supple from the
tropic calm! The birds of the forest are on the
Regions Cæsar never knew, including
Hibernia, have come under the eagles, nay the vultures,
of imperial Britain. But the lion’s maw
At length the overgorged beast of
prey, with all the diseases in his veins that over-eating
brings, finds that his claws are not so sharp as they
were, that his belly is much heavier when he tries
to leap and that it is now chiefly by his voice he
still scares his enemies.
The Empire of England dates from Tudor
times. Henry VIII was the first John Bull.
When the conquered Irish and the wealth derived from
their rich country England set out to lay low every
free people that had a country worth invading and
who, by reasons of their non-imperial instinct were
not prepared to meet her on equal terms. India
she overran by the same methods as had given her Ireland.
Wholesale plunder, treachery and deceit
met at her council board under a succession of Governors
and Viceroys, whose policy was that of Captain Kidd,
and whose ante-room of state led every native prince
to the slippery plank. The thing became the most
colossal success upon earth. No people were found
able to withstand such a combination. How could
peoples still nursed in the belief of some diviner
will ruling men’s minds resist such an attack?
For one brief space Napoleon reared
his head; and had he cast his vision to. Ireland
instead of to Egypt he would have found out the secret
of the pirate’s stronghold. But the fates
willed otherwise; the time was not yet. He sailed
for Alexandria, lured by a dream, instead of for Cork;
and the older Imperialists beat the new Imperialists
and secured a fresh century of unprecedented triumph.
The Pyramids looked down on Waterloo; but the headlands
of Bantry Bay concealed the mastery, and the mystery,
of the seas.
With 1811 was born the era of Charles
Peace, no less than of John Bull on Sundays
and Saint’s days a churchwarden, who carried
the plate; on week days a burglar who lifted it.
Truly, as John Mitchel said on his convict hulk:
“On English felony the sun never sets.”
May it set in 1915.
From Napoleon’s downfall to
the battle of Colenso, the Empire founded by Henry
VIII has swelled to monstrous size. Innumerable
free peoples have bit the dust and died with plaintive
cries to heaven. The wealth of London has increased
a thousand fold, and the giant hotels and caravanserais
have grown, at the millionaire’s touch, to rival
the palaces of the Caesars.
“All’s well with God’s
world” and poet and plagiarist, courtier
and courtesan, Kipling and cant these now
dally by the banks of the Thames and dine off the
peoples of the earth, just as once the degenerate
populace of imperial Rome fed upon the peoples of the
Pyramids. But the thing is near the end.
The “secret of Empire” is no longer the
sole possession of England. Other peoples are
learning to think imperially. The Goths and the
Visigoths of modern civilisation are upon the horizon.
Action must soon follow thought. London, like
Rome, will have strange guests. They will not
pay their hotel bills. Their day is not yet but
it is at hand. “Home Rule” assemblies
and Indian “Legislative Councils” may
prolong the darkness; but the dawn is in die sky.
And in the downfall of the Tudor Empire, both Ireland
and India shall escape from the destruction and join
again the free civilizations of the earth.
The birds of the forest are on the wing.
It is an Empire in these straights
that turns to America, through Ireland, to save it.
And the price it offers is war with Germany.
France may serve for a time, but France like Germany,
is in Europe, and in the end it is all Europe and
not only Germany England assails. Permanent confinement
of the white races, as distinct from the Anglo-Saxon
variety, can only be achieved by the active support
and close alliance of the American people. These
people are to-day, unhappily republicans and free
men, and have no ill-will for Germany and a positive
distaste for imperialism. It is not really in
their blood. That blood is mainly Irish and German,
the blood of men not distinguished in the past for
successful piracy and addicted rather to the ways
of peace. The wars that Germany has waged have
been wars of defence, or wars to accomplish the unity
of her people. Irish wars have been only against
one enemy, and ending always in material disaster
they have conferred always a moral gain. Their
memory uplifts the Irish heart; for no nation, no
people, can reproach Ireland with having wronged them.
She has injured no man.
And now, to-day, it is the great free
race of this common origin of peace-loving peoples,
filling another continent, that is being appealed
to by every agency of crafty diplomacy, in every garb
but that of truth, to aid the enemy of both and the
arch-disturber of the old world. The jailer of
Ireland seeks Irish-American support to keep Ireland
in prison; the intriguer against Germany would win
German-American good-will against its parent stock.
There can be no peace for mankind, no limit to the
intrigues set on foot to assure Great Britain “the
mastery of the seas.”
If “America” will but
see things aright, as a good “Anglo-Saxon”
people should, she will take her place beside, nay,
even a little in front of John Bull in the plunder
of the earth. Were the “Anglo-Saxon Alliance”
ever consummated it would be the biggest crime in human
history. That alliance is meant by the chief party
seeking it to be a perpetual threat to the peoples
of Europe, nay, to the whole of mankind outside the
allied ranks. And instead of bringing peace it
must assuredly bring the most distracting and disastrous
conflict that has ever stained the world with blood.
John Bull has now become the great
variety artist, one in truth whose infinite variety
detention cannot stale any more than Customs officers
can arrest the artist’s baggage.
At one moment the “Shirt King,”
being prosecuted for the sale of cheap cottons as
“Irish Linen” in London; the next he lands
the “Bloater King” in New York, offering
small fish as something very like a whale. And
the offer in both cases is made in the tongue of Shakespeare.
The tongue has infinite uses; from
China it sounds the “call for prayer,”
and lo, the Book of Dividends opens at the right text.
Were Bull ever caught in the act, and put from the
trade of international opium-dosing to that of picking
oakum and the treadmill we should hear him exclaim,
as he went out of sight, “Behold me weaving the
threads of democratic destiny as I climb the golden
The roles are endless! In Ireland,
the conversion of Irishmen into cattle; in England,
the conversion of Irish cattle into men; in India
and Egypt the suppression of the native press; in America
the subsidising of the non-native press; the tongue
of Shakespeare has infinite uses. He only poached
deer it would poach dreadnoughts.
The emanations of Thames sewage are all over the world,
and the sewers are running still. The penalty
for the pollution of the Thames is a high one; but
the prize for the pollution of the Mississippi is still
higher; the fountains of the deep, the mastery of the
great waters, these are the things John Bull seeks
on the shore of the “Father of Waters.”
The sunset of the fading Empire would
turn those waters into blood. The British Empire
was not founded in peace; how, then can it be kept
by peace, or ensured by peace-treaties? It was
born of pillage and blood-shed, and has been maintained
by both; and it cannot now be secured by a common
language any more than a common Bible. The lands
called the British Empire belong to many races, and
it is only by the sword and not by the Book of Peace
or any pact of peace that those races can be kept
from the ownership of their own countries.
The “Anglo-Saxon Alliance”
means a compact to ensure slavery and beget war.
The people who fought the greatest war in modern history
to release slaves are not likely to begin the greatest
war in all history to beget slaves.
Let the truth be known in America
that England wants to turn the great Republic of free
men into die imperial ally of the great Empire of
bought men, and that day die “Anglo-Saxon Alliance”
gives place to the Declaration of Independence.
The true alliance to aim at for all
who love peace is the friendly Union of Germany, America
and Ireland. These are the true United States
of the world.
Ireland, the link between Europe and
America, must be freed by both.
Denied to-day free intercourse with
either, she yet forms in the great designs of Providence
the natural bond to bring the old world and the new
May 1915 lay the foundation of this the
true Hundred Years of Peace!