Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/315

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275
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

Again, the abrogation of law in Ireland—the rule of the dragoon, the glutted prison, the crowded emigrant fleets, the chained men on convict ships; and again, "silence and peace in Ireland."

England had now realized the important fact that the commercial development of the Western World had placed Ireland in an objective position of the highest value. She lay in the high stream of progress. Her western and southern shores were indented with deep and safe bays and harbors. A ship-canal from Gal way to Dublin would capture every ship on the Atlantic bound for Liverpool, saving two days in sailing time; and the Irish were bent on cutting such a canal. The great fall of the Irish rivers was an inestimable treasure, greater even than the mineral wealth of the island and the fisheries on the coast.

Every ship going through an Irish canal was in danger of forgetting the southern English ports, Bristol and Southampton. Every mill built on an Irish stream would deduct from the profits of Lancashire. Every ton of coal or other mineral dug in Ireland lowered the prices in Nottingham, Sheffield, and the Black Country. If the Irish farmers' children could get work in mills and mines and shops, their earnings would make their parents independent of the landlords, and rents would have to be lowered.

It was clear that Ireland's advance must be stopped, or she would become a dangerous competitor and a democratic example for Great Britain.

After the abortive Fenian rising, fruit of oppression's seed, followed the advent of Parnell, "fresh from Oxford, with his cold English training, his Yankee blood, and Irish patriotic traditionary feeling." His wonderful success had made it clear that England must either grant Home Rule or send a new Cromwell to do the work of extermination more thoroughly. But before the latter could be done England would have to reckon with the Irish outside of Ireland, and:

Ireland is saved by the twenty million Irish-blooded Americans; by the five million Irish and their descendants in England, Scotland, and Wales; by the vast numbers of Irish sympathizers in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and other countries. It would be highly dangerous to slaughter the kindred of such a people. It is not likely that Ireland will gain much from the coming Parliament. The Parliament cannot last long; it is too evenly balanced. Besides, England has not yet realized that Home Rule for Ireland is