Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/252

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Another, and a very grave reason for an expression of policy, is that the best intelligence, both in Ireland and America, will withdraw from a movement that either cloaks its ultimate purpose, or has none. Already the Land League has suffered deep loss by the vagueness of its drift. One American bishop has publicly uttered his disapproval of an organization which he could not understand; and the Catholic clergy generally have, it is believed, a secret and a growing feeling in regard to the Land League, that they are dealing with an occult and uncertain organism.

To allow so great an organization to collapse through blind management and lack of purpose would be calamitous. To fight the landlords and support the evicted tenants is not a national policy—it is not enough. When the land question is settled, the question of an Irish Government for Ireland will be no nearer a solution than at present.

A demand for Home Rule by the Irish people, supported by their representatives in Parliament, will obtain sympathy in all countries, and particularly in America. The Land League has demonstrated its necessity to the world. It will give life to the magnificent organization which now has nothing to do but raise money. It will receive instant and thorough approval and support from the Catholic hierarchy and priests, both in Ireland and America, and from intelligent and conservative men, who have hitherto avoided all Irish national movements.

Unless this demand is made, and soon made, the Land League organization will dwindle into insignificance, and an opportunity such as Ireland has not seen for a century will be lost.

This frank treatment of the Irish question won the approval of the author's countrymen, with very few exceptions. The extreme nationalists appreciated the sincerity of his words, even while they did not agree with his policy. A few—they were very few—denounced the article as "traitorous." Of these O'Reilly said in the Pilot:

The Irish people are too deeply in earnest to be quite calm when their national sentiments are on the table. We do not regret the heat, because by it we perceive the earnestness. The man who wants to be treated with gloves should never leap into a crowd of enthusiastic stragglers. Some of the personalities and angry expressions called out by the article are absurd, and the writers either are, or will soon be, ashamed of them. Out of all, one or two only were unjust or offensive; and these Mr. O'Reilly can well, afford to pass, not, however, without regret that any Irishmen could be found to so easily disrespect themselves and others.