Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/297

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257
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

and the Tower of London were the three points of attack. Buildings were shattered, but not a human life was lost; the dynamiters had selected a day and hour, two o'clock Saturday afternoon, when few people would be likely to be visiting those places, O'Reilly thus commented on the outrages:

That the explosions were intended as a warning voice is obvious from the selection of places—the Tower of London, the symbol of English strength, antiquity, and pride; the House of Commons and Westminster Hall, the sacred and famous rooms of the national councils. It would be easy to destroy private property or national property of lesser importance; the dockyards are accessible; the governmental offices are not difficult of entrance; the palaces of royalty cannot be guarded at every door. But all these were passed by the dynamiters as of small significance, and the very heart and lungs of Britain, watched and guarded and fenced round with steel and suspicion, were selected as the point of attack.

The world cries out indignantly against the destroyers, the passionate rebels against injustice who would reduce all order to chaos in their furious impatience. But the world should at the same time appeal to the oppressor to lighten his hand, to remember that the harvest of wrong is desolation.

If England's pride is too great to yield under compulsion, what shall be said of Ireland's pride? Are the scourgings, exile, starvation, misreport of nearly a thousand years to be obliterated at the order of an act of Parliament? The nations that prize civilization and appreciate the force and limit of human statutes should urge justice and amity on England as well as Ireland. The evil cannot be stamped out; it must be soothed out by Christian gentleness and generosity. The social dangers of our time can only be averted by a higher order of law. The relations of men and nations must be made equitable or they will be shattered by the wrath of the injured, who can so readily appeal to destructive agencies hitherto unknown.

Since the Phoenix Park assassinations England's course in Ireland has been, as before, persistently and stolidly tyrannous. The most virtuous and peaceful country in Europe, by England's own showing, is ruled by armed force. Its chief governing officers are abominable criminals, exposed by Irish indignation and shielded by English arrogance. The Irish population is disarmed and gagged; popular meetings for discussion forbidden. Paid magistrates and English police-chiefs govern, instead of the natural authorities, among the people themselves. The cities and towns are wasting away. The farmers on the lands of English absentee landlords are bankrupt, and there are no