Page:Roger Casement - The crime against Ireland and how the war may right it.djvu/15

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there no other factor governing the situation, that answer would have been long since given.

It is not the ethnical superiority of the English race that accounts for their lead, but the favorable geographical situation from which they have been able to develop and direct their policy of expansion.

England has triumphed mainly from her position. The qualities of her people have, undoubtely, counted for much, but her unrivalled position in the lap of the Atlantic, barring the seaways and closing the tideways of Central and North-Eastern Europe, has counted for more.

With this key she has opened the world to herself and closed it to her rivals.

The long war with France ended in the enhancement of this position by the destruction of the only rival fleet in being.

Europe, without navies, without shipping became for England a mere westward projection of Asia, dominated by warlike peoples who could always be set by the ears and made to fight upon points of dynastic honor, while England appropriated the markets of mankind. Thenceforth, for the best part of a century, while Europe was spent in what, to the superior Briton were tribal conflicts, the seas and coasts of the world lay open to the intrusions of his commerce, his colonists, his finance, until there was seemingly nothing left outside the two Americas worth laying hands on. This highly favored maritime position depends, however, upon an unnamed factor, the unchallenged possession and use of which by England has been the true foundation of her imperial greatness. Without Ireland there would be to-day no British Empire. The vital importance of Ireland to England is understood, but never proclaimed by every British statesman. To subdue that western and ocean-closing island and to exploit its resources, its people and, above all, its position, to