Page:Roger Casement - The crime against Ireland and how the war may right it.djvu/16

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the sole advantage of the eastern island has been the set aim of every English government from the days of Henry VIII onwards. The vital importance of Ireland to Europe is not and has not been understood by any European statesman. To them it has not been a European island, a vital and necessary element of European development, but an appanage of England, an island beyond an island, a mere geographical expression in the titles of the conqueror. Louis XIV came nearest, perhaps, of European rulers to realizing its importance in the conflict of European interests when he sought to establish James II on its throne as rival to the monarch of Great-Britain and counterpoise to the British sovereignty in the western seas. Montesquieu alone of French writers grasped the importance of Ireland in the international affairs of his time, and lie blames the vacillation of Louis, who failed to put forth his strength, to establish James upon the throne of Ireland and thus by a successful act of perpetual separation to "affaiblir le voisin." Napoleon, too late, in St. Helena realized his error: "Had I gone to Ireland instead of to Egypt, the empire of England was at an end."

With these two utterances of the French writer and of the French ruler we begin and end the reference of Ireland to European affairs which Continental statecraft has up to this emitted, and so far has failed to apply.

To-day there is probably no European thinker (although Germany produced one in recent times), who, when he faces the overpowering supremacy of Great Britain's influence in world affairs and the relative subordination of European rights to the asserted interests of that small island, gives a thought to the other and smaller island beyond its shores. And yet the key to British supremacy lies there. Perhaps the one latter day European who perceived the true relation of Ireland to Great Britain was Neibuhr.