Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/303

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
263
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

the harvest here. No more can the Cromwellian system be applied to Ireland. Why? Because of the expatriated millions, because of the great moral and political force the Irish and their descendants have in many great countries, because we are England's enemies until she makes us her friends—enemies in trade, enemies in politics, enemies in social life.

If I believed, sir, that the words of Mr. Chamberlain were meant by England, if I believed it to-day—and I am a citizen of America and my children will be always American people—I say, if Mr. Chamberlain's words were true, that Ireland would never get what she wanted, I would not only subscribe to dynamite, I would be a dynamiter.

I want to say, for my own self-respect, and for the self-respect of my countrymen, that behind all their constitutional effort is the purpose to fight, if they don't get what they now ask for.

I believe now, to come down from that sort of talking to a quieter sort, that our process here is purely American; that our purpose here is as purely and practically American as Irish; and that we have here a terrible reason for continuing this Irish fight in this State and over all the Union, and this Boston merchant's letter[1] suggests a word to me. Here is a man employing hundreds of men and women, and he says that nine tenths of them are Irish or Irish-Americans, and he says that they have to give, sir, a large proportion of their earnings to pay rents in Ireland, and save relatives there from eviction and starvation.

We complain with reason that the Chinese go back to China when they save money. Ah, there is a pathetic and a terrible truth in the fact that the same charge might be made against us—that we send millions upon millions of American money, earned by our hard work, to Ireland. We send it year after year to Ireland, to pay the landlords, to save our kindred; and it ought to be kept here; Ireland ought to be able to support herself.

There is another American reason why we should continue this Irish agitation. The elements of our population are mainly in the East descended from England and Ireland, and they inherit a prejudice, an unfriendliness—an unnatural, artificial, ignorant antipathy on both sides. That unnatural condition of distrust and dislike should cease in America, and we should amalgamate into one race, one great unified, self-loving American people; but that condition will never come until peace is made between the sources of the two races. Their descendants in this country will always be facing each other in antagonism, discontent, and distrust, until England sits down and shakes hands freely with Ireland.

Louis Kiel, the French-Canadian "rebel" of the Red

  1. From A. Shuman, Esq., inclosing a contribution of $100.