Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/250

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Government, at its wit's end, is apparently ready to listen to a proposition from Ireland that will restore peace without dismembering the empire. The present Prime Minister and many other leading Englishmen have clearly so expressed themselves, and without damnatory criticism by any English class or party.

Ireland in 1882 ought to agitate for and demand her own government. No matter by what name the movement is called, whether Home Eule, Repeal or Federation. The result will be practically the same. The natural resources of the country will be worked and cherished by its own people. The official life will no longer be an alien and inimical network spread over the island. The insolent presence of soldiery and armed constablery will disappear. The dignity of a people upholding a nationality they are proud of will take the place of the servile helplessness of an almost pauper population.

We do not fear for Ireland's future in a federal union with England. Nature has given the lesser country inestimable advantages. The antitrade laws passed by England in the last century are proof that even then she feared mercantile and manufacturing competition with Ireland. The intelligence of commerce will steer its merchant ships into Ireland's southern and western ports, to avoid the dangers of the fatal English Channel. The unrivaled water power of the rivers—from whose tumbling streams even the flour mills have disappeared—will drive the wheels of manufacture into competition with Lancashire.

If the landlords of Ireland are to be bought out—and we see no other way for the farmers to become proprietors, unless the government drive the people into revolution—it is better that they should be bought out by an Irish rather than an English Parliament.

And if, after a fair trial of the Federal union, it were found that Ireland suffered by the bond, that she was outnumbered in council, harassed and injured by imperial enactments, that in fact it was an unequal and unbearable contract, then still there remains the ultimate appeal of an oppressed people,separation—even by the sharp edge of violence.

The next step for Ireland is obviously not revolution. She has been for the past four years a model to the world of intelligent, peaceful agitation. Her people have pursued their legal purpose with marvelous patience, tenacity and temper. They have not broken the law, under terrible excitements and constant presence of the flaunted arrogance and ruffianism of unnecessary military power. They have achieved the greatest of all triumphs in compelling their powerful opponent either to yield or to break all the laws that it had itself invented to oppress and hamper the weaker country.

A people with such political intelligence and fertility need not fear federation with England. If Ireland can beat her even under present